The Hatfield Public Schools to Receive Mental Health Grant.



The following article was prepared by Smith Academy Senior Maia Seetal: 


The Hatfield Public Schools District has been awarded the “Improving Student Access to Behavioral and Mental Health Services Grant" by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education for the fiscal years 2019 and 2020, totaling $12,637. The purpose of this grant, according to the DESE website, is to “improve student behavioral and mental health outcomes” by increasing the capacity of school districts and community-based providers to develop systems for student support. This grant is competitive, with approximately $5,500,000 available to public school districts in Massachusetts. Priority was given to schools with limited access to mental and behavioral health services and limited financial resources that have created action plans based on the safe and supportive schools framework, have built/are building systems for integrated student support, are a current or past Systems for Student grantee, were designated as requiring assistance or intervention, and/or that partnered with community-based providers to submit applications for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s School and Community Based Targeted Intervention Services grant or to receive other grants through DPH’s Bureau of Substance Addiction Services or other state agencies.

The Hatfield PS District will be using this grant to support existing psychologists in both buildings, provide training opportunities for staff, and to fund a program to offer longer-term mental health counseling in school through a partnership with River Valley Counseling, a program which is designed to help families who have difficulties getting to outside counseling by providing this counseling through the school. Some of the funds will go to making programs piloted at either Smith Academy or Hatfield Elementary School district-wide, such as the partnership program with River Valley Counselors and a check in-check out program that pairs students with staff volunteers who check in on them periodically to see how they are doing both academically and in terms of mental and behavioral health.

“We are happy to have this opportunity to expand the efforts that our school psychologists have been providing for us,” said Jean Hobbie, HES nurse who was the driving force behind the Hatfield PS District’s application for this grant. “[This grant] will help us help staff take on a bigger role and help the school community support students’ needs before it becomes an urgent situation.”