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Mental Health Services

Update as of October 1, 2021

The Coronavirus pandemic has impacted the delivery of needed mental health services. In August 2021, Prince George's County Public Schools (PGCPS) received a notice of grant award in the amount of $83,333 to continue funding the Mental Health Coordinator position. As a result, the coordinator created a Mental Health Plan to address the trauma and behavioral issues caused by or exacerbated by Covid-19 and was submitted to the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) on August 23, 2021, and to the state legislature in the fall of 2021 for review and approval.

Additionally, two grant applications were submitted to MSDE in August 2021. Both were funded with federal American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery Funds issued by the U.S. Treasury Department. 

  • For fiscal year 2021, $1,762,472 was allocated for the following:
    • Summer 2021 mental health services
      • A messaging campaign via PGCPS’ Office of Communications was launched in June 2021 to alert the community about summer counseling services for students
      • Orientation for all mental health clinicians assigned to assist with summer school that serviced approximately 12,657 students in summer 2021 
      • Mental health clinicians offered in-person and virtual counseling services to all K-12 students and families in summer 2021.
    • Professional development for 8 mental health clinicians regarding Positive Behavior Supports (PBS) action plans. As more clinicians became available, they were updated on the process via meetings and a pre-recorded video. 
      • PBS actions plans were developed for prekindergarten students who receive counseling services
  • For fiscal year 2022, $ 2,643,708 was allocated for the following:
    • Summer 2022 mental health services
      • PGCPS will launch a messaging campaign via PGCPS’ Office of Communications to alert the community about summer counseling services for students
      • Compensation for a program manager to assist with the nine-week summer 2022 implementation of mental health activities for summer school students
      • Orientation for approximately 15 mental health clinicians in summer 2022
      • Mental health clinicians will offer counseling services to students and families in summer 2022 and will extend services into the 2022-2023 school year for all PGCPS students
    • Facilitate small task forces of mental health clinicians and school-based staff to address suicide prevention, trauma awareness, and mental health in all 206 schools.
    • Professional development for mental health clinicians regarding Positive Behavior Supports (PBS) action plans for students who receive counseling services
      • School-based staff and mental health clinicians will develop PBS actions plans for prekindergarten students who receive counseling services for summer 2022 and school year 2022-2023.

Both funding amounts must include trauma and behavior health support for students during summer school 2021 and 2022.

Update as of January 1, 2022

As PGCPS navigates the challenges of the COVID-19 impact on student learning, the Mental Health Coordinator (MHC) has engaged in multiple ways with internal and external stakeholders to provide services to students between October 2021 and December 2021. Thus, the MHC updated the Mental Health Plan and submitted it to the state legislature in December 2021.

More specifically, the MHC continues to lead weekly meetings with PGCPS Youth First Care Team to coordinate the services of the mental health clinicians, and monthly meetings with the mental health agencies to collaborate on the integration of clinicians into PGCPS. As of December 23, 2021, there were 116.5 mental health clinician positions filled plus the mental clinicians in the 77 community schools. Schools with larger populations have more than one clinician assigned. Currently, there are 30.5 schools without a mental health clinician; however, the MHC is working diligently with PGCPS’ Division of Human resources on filling these positions.

To further monitor students’ behavioral health, the MHC provides consultation on a daily basis to administrators, school mental health professionals, teachers, and parents/guardians about how to support students with suicidal thoughts, self-injurious behaviors, and behavioral and other mental health challenges. The following were workshops and training provided by the MHC:

  • Workshops for new professional school counselors and school psychologists
    • Suicide prevention and intervention training- fall 2021 
      • 12 attendees
    • Behavior threat assessment training on October 11, 2021
      • 63 attendees
  • Sources of Strength Adult Advisor Training on October 15, 2021. Implementation of Sources of Strength, a student-led suicide prevention program, at 10 secondary schools (on-going).
  • Resilience in School Environments (RISE) committee met on October 28, 2021. The members include the mental health coordinator, 2 mental health clinicians, and 4 central office administrators. 
  • Since the beginning of the school year 2021-2022, the MDH has coordinated 17 crisis responses which include supporting students, staff and families after the deaths of students and/or staff.

In terms of community collaboration, the MHC has done the following:

  • Regularly meets with other MHCs across Maryland to share and learn what other school systems are doing to meet the mental health needs of students, families, and staff. 
  • Led the Prince George’s Department of Health’s Behavioral Health Integration Group committee to facilitate partnerships between schools, behavioral health, somatic care, and health management organizations. The committee includes members of the Prince George’s County Health Department, behavioral health organizations, PGCPS, and other organizations that support youth and young adults. Meeting dates include October 28th, November 4th, and December 8, 2021.
  • Participated in Prince George’s County’s Child Fatality Committee to prevent youth deaths and identify how to support families and the community. The committee includes over 40 members including the Department of Health, local law enforcement, and PGCPS representatives. Meeting dates include August 3rd, September 7th, and November 2, 2021.  
  • Secured a grant with a multi-sector leadership team to participate in the National Leadership Academy for the Public’s Health (NLAPH) training program, which involves an applied health leadership project to meet the needs of youth with an incarcerated parent/guardian.

Update as of April 1, 2022 

Currently, the MHC position is vacant. However, PGCPS is in the process of hiring two new MHCs to fill this position. In the meantime, the previous MHC continues to consult with school administrators, school mental health professionals, and teachers regarding mental and behavioral health challenges. More specifically, the previous MHC continues to work with schools regarding the completion of behavioral threat assessments when appropriate and ensuring processes are followed when students present with suicidal ideation. Crisis support continues to be provided to schools due to loss of students or staff loss. One area of focus is students in Prekindergarten - grade 3 since this age group has missed social/behavioral milestones during virtual learning from spring 2020 to winter 2021. Further, in fall 2021, PGCPS implemented a new process to ensure all students, Prekindergarten-grade 12, who return from an out-of-school suspension interface with a mental health professional to determine if support and ongoing counseling is needed.

Additionally, school-based mental health clinicians were asked to take part in a survey that captured the collective services that have been rendered across PGCPS from September 8, 2021 (or the clinician’s first day) until January 15, 2022. Services performed in schools that are categorized as direct and indirect services, including counseling, classroom observations, consultations, crisis intervention, and professional development were provided. Services to students, staff, and parents/guardians, and the process for monitoring mental health services in PGCPS are also described. A summary of the results can be found here.

Update as of July 1, 2022

Currently, the Mental Health Coordinator (MHC) position is vacant and PGCPS is in the process of hiring two new MHCs to fill this position. However, the previous Mental Health Coordinator continues to be involved and supports schools with consultation, crisis response, behavior threat assessments, etc. Continuous support includes:

  • community partnerships
  • serving on committees as stated in previous updates
  • Tracking counseling services provided by mental health clinicians
  • Facilitating weekly meetings with the Youth Care Program Team
  • Providing crisis response to schools, and consultation to principals, professional school counselors, and parents when students experience a crisis

Recent events include PGCPS’ partnership with a local radio station, WPGC 95.5 during the months of May and June to implement a mental health awareness campaign. One key event on Monday, June 6, 20022, included all 9th graders from Charles Herbert Flowers High School. DJ Academics hosted the discussion and students asked questions. This workshop, which captured students’ voices about mental health issues, ended in June 2022. View the feature story here.

Additionally, PGCPS established a new partnership with the Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation. This mental health service will offer 5 free counseling sessions to all middle and high schools (students aged 12-18) who choose to participate until the end of the calendar year (December 2023). Sessions include: youth support groups, cultural competence training, and after school hangout. You may see more information here.