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Why a budget increase for mental health services in schools is increasing public concern

Why a budget increase for mental health services in schools is increasing public concern
Posted at 10:22 PM, Nov 14, 2023
and last updated 2023-11-14 22:22:31-05

Approximately 20 million students, nationwide, have been diagnosed with ADHD, Anxiety, Depression, or Behavioral Issues and the Collier County Public School District is responding to this crisis.

One solution the school district decided at the beginning of the year was an agreement with Maxim Healthcare Staffing located in Tampa. The agreement brought School Intervention Therapist (SIT) services to consenting students and parents.

"We don't do family therapy. We're not having mom and dad come in with their child and working through issues like that. It's really, the goal is so much different because the goal isn't to fix a child, for lack of a better word. It's to help them pursue their academic potential."
Executive Director Exceptional Student Education, CCPS

The program originally began with a $49,000 budget but the district has now approved an increase of up to $180,000 due to staff vacancies, which the board voted for 3-2.

"We need to look at everything that's causing this serious mental health epidemic so that we can target the causes and be able to truly help our children. Collier County Public Schools is investing a lot of money in businesses and counselors in the Tampa Bay area to help us. I would like as much as possible to keep all of our therapies local, so that we can hold the therapists accountable."
Dr. Pam Cunningham, Resident and running for School Board

Some residents brought up concerns about the use of the funding.

"I'm concerned in general about the whole mental health issue and how it's being dealt with," said Keith Flaugh, Marco Island resident. "Mental Health has become a problem. There's no question about it."

The budget increase will be implemented for the rest of the 2023-2024 school year.