VCSC seeks to prioritize student mental health

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) – The Vigo County School Corporation plans to prioritize student mental health this school year.

Federal “Project Aware” funds will allow VCSC to fund on-site counseling for students if they need this mental health service. This is the 5th and final year of “Project Aware” for VCSC.

VCSC Director of Student Services Tom Balitewicz said bringing counselors into school buildings is critical for students as it removes the transportation barrier for students who need to travel off-site to acquire help.

“We don’t want this to be a barrier for students to receive mental health counseling,” Balitewicz said. “It just makes it easier.”

Company officials have expressed their gratitude for these federal funds, but the end of “Project Aware” will come to an end at the end of the school year. This means that VCSC will have to look for other ways to fund this service. Balitewicz said the search for further funding began three years ago.

“This is the last year of this grant, so we will have to look at other funding mechanisms for this,” Balitewicz said.

The Hamilton Center will provide mentors for the VCSC this year. VCSC Superintendent Rob Haworth said the company and the Hamilton Center have had a good, long-standing relationship. He said it would be helpful in helping students deal with mental health issues.

“It’s that relationship with that mentor, that counselor that is able to meet a student one-on-one,” Haworth explained. “That’s where the difference is going to be and we are grateful to them for being able to step in.”

Whether a student has private insurance or not, Balitewicz said students will be able to get any mental health services they may need.

“For us, we just want to provide the student services,” Balitewicz said.

The first day for students is this Thursday, August 11.

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