TAYLOR, Pa. — Students in the Riverside School District will soon have some extra help when the days get mentally tough. The district was awarded a grant for $750,000 to hire three mental health professionals.
"This grant will put a licensed professional counselor, an LPC, in each building that we have, all three buildings, for three years. It's a really good grant for us," said Riverside Superintendent Paul Brennan.
District officials are happy to get some help for the students because of the growing need.
"Last year alone, we helped over 200 students with additional mental health needs, so to me, that's where mental health crisis means — over 10 percent of our population needing more care, a higher level of care," said J.T. Yarem, the head of guidance and a crisis counselor in the district.
Yarem says students suffer with anything from anxiety to suicidal thoughts, and the pandemic didn't help. He says this grant will get students the help they need sooner.
"I think there's far less of a stigma now in mental health, and the need is that much greater, not just for students but for staff and families in the community," Yarem said.
"It's going to allow our teachers to teach, and we're going to be able to support and help a lot of kids," Brennan added.
The counselors will be in the schools over the next three years. District officials hope that will lessen the number of students in a mental health crisis.
"It's going to allow us to build a program here and put those preventative measures in place where we can get some solid data and hopefully see some positive results," said Yarem.
The school district also received funds to hire a mental health worker. The superintendent says they hope to fill all the positions soon.
Riverside offers a number of resources for students struggling with mental health problems. Get more information here.