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Grants announced for two new mental health clinics for schools in St. Lawrence County

Watertown Daily Times - 12/2/2023

Dec. 2—Some of New York's schools are getting another infusion of cash to build up school-based mental health clinics, including two in St. Lawrence County.

On Thursday, Gov. Kathleen C. Hochul announced during a visit to a school in New York City that her administration is issuing a round of funding of $5.1 million to build 137 new school-based mental health clinics at campuses across the state. In St. Lawrence County, the Colton-Pierrepont Central School and the Edwards-Knox Junior and Senior High School will receive $25,000 to establish services.

These clinics, which received $20 million in the New York state budget this year, are meant to serve youth in schools suffering from mental illnesses or emotional crises, part of a plan to address the epidemic of mental illness observed in youth today.

"It's clear young people are facing insidious, and increasingly complex challenges to their mental and emotional wellness," Hochul said, blaming the prevalence of social media use in children and teenagers today. "By expanding mental health clinics in school-based settings, we can help engage young people of all ages in a familiar and stigma-free environment through conversations led by licensed experts."

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control say reports of anxiety or depression among children age 6 to 17 have increased over time, as have reports of persistent sadness or hopelessness. Some experts and many elected officials have blamed the increase in digital interactions and social media use among young people, especially algorithm-driven content applications like TikTok or YouTube. They have said these internet services, which serve as both entertainment and social media, hosting a significant amount of the social interactions young people have today, have used manipulative tactics to keep users addicted that have resulted in poor mental health impacts.

Officials argue that by stepping up mental health resources at the institutions where so many children spend their days, they can step in before students' mental health deteriorates significantly and help cut down on rates of depression, addiction and suicide among these children.

"Nearly 40% of young people report having persistent feelings of sadness and hopelessness, and we have an obligation to take on meaningful, immediate action," said state Sen. Samra Brouk, D-Rochester, chair of the state Senate Mental Health Committee. "This is especially true for Black and Brown students and those who identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community. This funding here in New York will allow more students to receive the support they deserve in a safe and trusted location."

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