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FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – The Broward School Board met on Tuesday, holding a workshop on the issue of mental health in public schools.
Mental health has been a priority for the district but has been fast tracked since the Stoneman Douglas mass shooting last February.
The workshop began with presentations from high school students who are helping other students cope with stressful periods.
“Being mentally ill with depression made me afraid to seek support because I didn’t feel I could trust anyone with my feelings” said Stranahan High senior Garry Nath.
Nath did get help and now tries to help classmates who are struggling.
The district has been working with community partners like the Children Services Council and Broward Behavioral Health to address mental health needs in the schools.
“I think ultimately we’ll get to a point where enough people are getting services the whole health of the community will improve,” said Superintendent Robert Runcie.
It’s estimated there is one psychologist for every 1630 public school students in Broward but the recommendation is to have one psychologist for every 500 students.
Eventually to meet all mental health needs the district needs to hire 437 counselors, 312 psychologists, 816 family therapists, 830 social workers and 170 nurses at a price tag of more than 200 million dollars.
“We want to use money from the referendum that just passed and go to the legislature for money,” said Board chair Nora Rupert, explaining how the district will obtain the funds to pay for the additional mental health staff.
Already the district has brought in the nationally recognized ‘center for mind body medicine’ training hundreds of volunteers to go into schools to help children deal with stress and frustration.
“It gives the kids a tool to cope,” said volunteer Kristina Braziel.