Nonprofit organization at local level endeavors to enhance the accessibility of mental health resources for kids and educators.

The Texas Pioneer Foundation has recently partnered with the Area 8 Center for Educational Services and the Meadows Institute for Mental Health Policy to offer mental health resources to local school districts and colleges. This initiative is set to run for one year, with committee leaders coming together to address the mental health needs of 23 districts and colleges in the Northeast. According to Jennifer Esterlein, this effort has just begun, and it may take another six months to see significant changes.

Esterlein notes that school districts feel overwhelmed, so the goal is to address the individual needs of each district. School districts have been reaching out to them and reporting increased referrals to principals and emotional outbursts, mental health support groups, and suspensions. The COVID-19 pandemic has made mental health a significant concern among students, teachers, and faculty, with many people bouncing back after each wave of the pandemic.

Sherry Pennix, Associate Superintendent of the Texarkana Independent School District, is on a committee responsible for strengthening mental health programs for students and faculty across all the participating school districts and colleges. Amanda Graham, Director of Academic Services at Texarkana University, is happy to be part of the learning community because it provides resources to educators.

The committee shared information on Texas Children’s Health Access via Telemedicine, a service that offers mental health services to students through collaboration with the University of Texas at Tyler. The committee’s resources are provided free of charge to the district, with the Texas Pioneer Foundation funding the initiative’s progress across all campuses.

Fred Markham, executive director of the Texas Pioneer Foundation, believes that the learning communities will help connect students and families to helpful resources. Education leaders coming together will promote innovation, collaboration, and help establish successful programs that support teachers, students, and their families. Participating schools include Chapel Hill ISD, Chisholm ISD, Clarksville ISD, Como Pickton ISD, Cooper ISD, Camby ISD, Dangerfield Lone Star ISD, Hart’s Bluff ISD, Honey Grove ISD, Hughes Springs ISD, Jefferson ISD, Linden ISD, Kildare CISD, New Boston ISD, North Hopkins ISD, Northeast Texas Community College, Mount Vernon ISD, Paris ISD, Paris Junior College, Puit CISD, Queen City ISD, Red Lick ISD, Redwater ISD, Sims ISD, Sulphur Bluff ISD, Texarkana ISD, and Texarkana Community College.

Leave a Reply