Five Northern Michigan Schools to Expand Mental Health Services Through State Grant

Five Northern Michigan schools will soon see expanded mental health services.

It’s all thanks to a grant from the state. 

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the Michigan Department of Education are funding the services.

They’re providing $5 million to open 60 centers across the state.

“We know that healthy students learn better. Better learners graduate so school-based mental health services have shown to increase test scores, increase graduation rates and decrease discipline,” said Natalie Kasiborski, the director of community health for the Health Department of Northwest Michigan.

East Jordan Elementary, Alanson, Central Lake and Gaylord Middle School are all adding mental health centers in their schools.

“We know that students are more likely to access services when they’re located within the school especially in our rural communities where it decreases barriers like lack of transportation or issues with insurance,” said Kasiborski.

Centers will provide services like assessments, group therapy and one-on-one counseling with a masters prepared social worker or counselor.

To Lisa Clavier, whose kids used to attend East Jordan Public Schools, these resources are crucial.

“We did lose my daughter Kiersten when she was 17. It was August before her senior year,” said Clavier.

In Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet and Otsego Counties, the Michigan Profile for Healthy Youth says in the last 12 months, 22.5 % of youth have considered suicide and 15.8% have made a plan. However, 7.2% have actually attempted suicide.

“I think there’s a really great shift in the academic realm to not only treat the student as a test score anymore but really to encompass that student as a whole individual,” said Clavier. “I really believe that our schools are recognizing that our youth are growing up in a different world that we had once grown up in.”

Clavier started Kiersten’s Ride in honor of her daughter to educate people on mental health issues.

She hopes the availability of services will help.

“East Jordan Public Schools has done an exceptional job at really working to take care of the whole student and not just their academic needs,” said Clavier. “If we could just get people in faster and on a more regular basis and really help that start regulating that mental health.”