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Mental health a priority for Columbia Public Schools as students return

COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)

Columbia Public Schools leaders say helping the district's more than 19,000 students with their mental health needs is a top priority.

Students are still dealing with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and violence in schools, adding to the mental strain on kids.

"About 1/3 of a student's life is spent in school. Within our schools we have the ability to influence kids in ways that are uplifting and beneficial," Columbia Public School Superintendent Brian Yearwood said.

This year the Biden Administration secured nearly $300 million dollars for schools to expand mental health services.

Yearwood said there are many people students can reach out to for mental health support.

"We have our counselors that work with our scholars, we have our teachers that make the referrals based on their knowledge on the scholar, even parents might call in and they reach out for help," Yearwood said.

Yearwood said the district prioritizes students' mental health every year. For 10 years, CPS along with all other area schools have worked with the Boone County Schools Mental Health Coalition. The coalition collects data from student surveys and provides schools with plans to best address a student's mental health.

"All data is run through the University of Missouri, so they aggregate all of that for us through the mental health checklist and then that checklist is able to be used by counselors, teachers and others to see what needs to be addressed," CPS spokeswoman Michelle Baumstark said.

Yearwood said the partnership between the school, the community and parents all play an important role in a student's mental health.

Article Topic Follows: Columbia Public Schools
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Leila Mitchell

Leila is a Penn State graduate who started with KMIZ in March 2021. She studied journalism and criminal justice in college.

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