North Texas Daily

Federal grant funds students’ education in mental health services with Texas senator’s support

Federal grant funds students’ education in mental health services with Texas senator’s support

Federal grant funds students’ education in mental health services with Texas senator’s support
April 28
13:00 2023

The university’s College of Education received a $3.8 million federal grant on April 5 from the U.S. Department of Education to train individuals to help improve mental health resources in schools in Denton and Lewisville.

The funding was authorized by Sen. John Cornyn’s Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which was signed last June in reaction to the Robb Elementary School shooting that occurred in Uvalde, Texas in May. The legislation’s goal is to improve community safety through different measures, including “funding for school-based mental health and supportive services,” according to the informational page of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act.

“No parent should fear for the safety of their student when they drop them off at school, and no student should be afraid when they walk into the classroom,” Sen. Cornyn said in a press release sent to the North Texas Daily. “In the aftermath of the tragedy in Uvalde, I’m grateful that meaningful solutions are starting to be delivered through this funding to prevent violence, provide training to school personnel and students, and hire additional mental health professionals in Texas schools.”  

The local project is led by Matthew Lemberger-Truelove, a university professor of Counseling and Higher Education, and Peggy Ceballos, an associate professor at the College of Education. College of Education Dean Randy Bomer said this is an important project because “educators have been leaving the profession in record numbers.”

“[The project] works to make schools locations where children and youth can receive mental health support,” Bomer said in an email to the Daily. “It also promises to make schools places that can support and grow emotional wellness rather than diminishing it, as they too often do and need support.”

Lemberger-Truelove said he began formulating the program after the passing of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act.

“Generally, university faculty members try to keep our finger on the pulse of funding opportunities that are germane to our areas of inquiry,” Lemberger-Truelove said. “And in the areas of school-based mental health, surprisingly, there’s not a lot of specific federal funding in thoseareas. And so when this one came online, we put together a research team.”

The initial funding for the grant will be over $440,000, with the funding over the five-year program reaching $3.8 million. Recruiting students for the first cohort started this week, with the official work beginning next semester. Lemberger-Truelove said although the experience of the individuals who apply may be different, the character traits need to be similar for the students in the graduate program.

The Department of Counseling and Higher
Education door in Matthews Hall on April 13, 2023. Bren McDonald

“We do know, as a profession, the literature is relatively clear that individuals who have high levels of empathy, engender hope and [have] cultural responsiveness [are] critically important predictors as to who will be an effective trainee,” Lemberger-Truelove said.

Before applying for the grant, the research team reached out to various school districts that fit the criteria for the funding priorities. The team identified certain Title I schools in Denton and Lewisville Independent School Districts. Title  I  schools  are  institutions  that  have  a  high  percentage  of  low-income students and receive federal funding to help meet academic standards, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

Lemberger-Truelove said the specific schools had not been selected and would be decided in a couple of years when the graduate students are placed in internships. 

There is about one counselor for every 392 students in Texas schools. Lemberger-Truelove said there is a need specifically to fund mental health services in Title I schools. 

The Daily reached out to both Denton and Lewisville ISD, but neither responded to comment. Eighteen elementary schools in Denton ISD, as well as 16 elementary schools, six middle schools and two high schools in Lewisville ISD receive Title I certification. 

The first couple of months of the program will be spent creating the infrastructure and hiring the appropriate personnel needed for the next five years. However, Lemberger-Truelove confirmed they are reaching out to “potential trainees” to help get the process started.

“We’re in the process of working with our partner districts to recruit appropriate people who have the academic background and the projectability to be a mental health service provider, particularly in a school context,” Lemberger-Truelove said. “And then [we will] perform standard interviews that we would in our general program for the purposes of admission so that they can begin taking coursework in the fall.”

Featured Illustration by Jazmine Garcia

About Author

Ismael M. Belkoura

Ismael M. Belkoura

Related Articles


No Comments Yet!

There are no comments at the moment, do you want to add one?

Write a comment

Write a Comment

The Roundup

<script id="mcjs">!function(c,h,i,m,p){m=c.createElement(h),p=c.getElementsByTagName(h)[0],m.async=1,m.src=i,p.parentNode.insertBefore(m,p)}(document,"script","");</script>

Search Bar

Sidebar Thumbnails Ad

Sidebar Bottom Block Ad

Flytedesk Ad