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Federal grant extended to provide local teachers, students mental health resources

Mental health program for students and teachers
Published: May. 5, 2022 at 7:18 AM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The Pima County Health Department is extending a program originally introduced during the pandemic to provide additional mental health support to students and school staff.

Matt Schmidgall, School Programs Manager for Pima County Health Department, said distance learning during the pandemic has had a big impact on students and teachers and the health department wants to ensure it is providing resources that are easily accessible.

“Through this program, they can bypass that lengthy intake process. No assessment. Really a great way to get introduced to what mental health support is out there in our community,” Schmidgall said.

Raquel Goodrich, CEO of Text, Talk, Act is working with the county to provide resources through a text messaging app.

Goodrich said students and staff can get advice, watch videos and get mental health support all right here through their phones.

“We’ve spent months going through the county, talking to young people, talking to educational staff to better understand what their mental health needs are as we’ve gone through the pandemic,” Goodrich said. “Now we have this specific app available for grades K-12 and all educational staff.”

It works by texting “Connect” to (833) 429-1994 for the student activity or “Staff” to (833) 429-1005. By texting that number with the specific title, you will get mental health resources catered to your needs.

“If you’re a student you’re going to learn coping skills. That was the biggest thing that we learned from youth, that they understand mental health, they are comfortable talking about it, but they don’t necessarily possess the skills that they need in order to be able to take care of their mental health,” Goodrich said.

She said they’re learning teachers are feeling overwhelmed or “burned out.” Goodrich said they are working to help teachers maintain a work/home balance after coming back to the classroom full-time.

“The past two years have been really difficult in terms of workload, burnout and stress,” Goodrich said. “Even more importantly, we’ve learned there’s systemic issues and the app is made for us to hear from them about what some of those core issues are that they’re facing, so that we as a group in the community can look to see if we can address some of those issues.”

The app gives links to in-person services as well through a county-wide link.

Researchers are hoping to learn more and understand how to help more people.

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