The Maine Department of Education has received more than $5 million from the federal government to support student mental health in three school districts.
The new initiative, called Maine-AWARE, is intended to help schools bring mental health resources into the classroom and to design support systems for students and families who need help.
Emily Poland is a school nurse consultant for the Maine Department of Education. She says the project is the first in Maine to attempt to create a statewide system to support student mental health. Poland says those efforts can help students academically, as well.
"And then being able to make a difference in their academic achievement, their attendance in school," she says. "If their mental health, behavioral health needs are being met, those things should improve, too."
Poland also says the federal funds will help schools bring mental health resources into the classroom, and will also work with the community to create support systems for students in need.
"Also reaching out to the community level,” says Poland. “To build on community resources and really bridge the gap between the community and the school."
The state will implement the program in schools in Calais, Rumford and Waldoboro. The money will be spent on new staff, curriculum and training for teachers across the districts.