Sign-on letter: Support funding for school-based mental health services
We invite Maryland-based organizations to sign on to the below letter to the Howard County Board of Education. Submitting this form signifies that you are an authorized representative of the organization, and that the organization agrees to sign the letter, which will be posted publicly and shared with the Board of Education. Please contact Jennifer White at the Horizon Foundation with any questions at jwhite@thehorizonfoundation.org.
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May 2020

FY 2021 Operating Budget: Funding for School-Based Mental Health Services
Position: Support

Dear Board of Education Members,

We, the undersigned organizations, believe strongly that mental wellness is critical to student success. Yet, too often, children and youth cannot get mental health treatment when they need it.

We understand that these are challenging times, fiscally and otherwise, for all of us – but we are reminded of what we share in common. All of us are deeply concerned for the health and wellbeing of our loves ones and our community. In times like these, we learned the best way for us to deal with fear and uncertainty is to lean in and take action. There is no time like the present to ensure our children have the appropriate mental health supports through HCPSS now more than ever.

Over the past year, a program jointly funded by the school system and the Horizon Foundation has significantly expanded mental health services in 30 schools. This program, which has already provided personalized help to hundreds of students, makes it easier for students to access services, including one-on-one counseling, during the school day.

We urge you to protect mental health funding for this pilot and to make sure this program is evaluated so that we can continue to better serve the mental health needs of students. At a time when COVID-19 has brought significant disruptions and changes to our children’s lives, it is imperative that we protect this funding in the FY2021 operating budget to ensure these services will continue. In addition to the pilot, children need a full range of school-based mental health services, especially now, whether offered in person or virtually and additional teacher training and supports may be necessary to deal with the social and emotional impacts of these trying times.

Across the nation and locally, school systems are recognizing the major opportunity they have to support students’ mental health. In fact, 70 – 80 percent of students receiving mental health services access them in the school setting. Lack of access to mental health services, along with negative stigma, have prevented many students and their families from finding the support they need. Protecting the mental health pilot program and offering a full range of school-based mental health services will better position HCPSS to support students now and expand this program into the future.

Mental health matters, and our children matter. Please continue to fund this program and continue to prioritize mental health and wellness so that every child can thrive and succeed both in and out of the classroom.

Sincerely,
[THE UNDERSIGNED ORGANIZATIONS - please complete this form to add your organization's name]
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