Mental Health Grants allow district to provide sensory tools, parent coaching sessions and more

In August of 2021, our district was awarded two mental health grants totaling over $220,000. The funds are being spread throughout three school years, with different goals and programs being created and maintained.

For the 2021-22 school year, our district had multiple projects that universally provided supportive services to students, along with students indicating elevated emotional and mental health needs. These supports were provided at all of our schools to varying degrees, based on need and allocation within the grants. Training, screening, data collection/analysis, and programs will continue for the 2022-23 school year.

The first project created was a community partnership group that offered different mental health sessions to families and staff in partnership with Children's Wisconsin. One of the sessions provided was Trauma 101, which discussed how to move forward after being impacted by trauma. Approximately 230 families opted to participate in this learning session. Our district will continue to release quarterly family learning sessions next year through Children's Wisconsin on various topics, including understanding anxiety, depression, and the impacts of social media. 

"I am happy again, and I love myself again," said a student at Middleton High School who did not wish to share their name. "I thought these sessions would not work since I have already tried so many things. I'll admit I was wrong. It did wonders! I finally got my sparkle back."

The following three projects all focused on identifying students' mental health needs. Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) Screeners, a Mental Health Referral Pathway and SEL Data Collection were also introduced into our district. These programs are helping provide more information and data that our student services team can use to support the needs of students.

Lastly, sensory tools are being integrated into schools that are intended to promote regulation, improve focus, and increase participation. All of our schools received a budget for regulation tools. At Sunset Ridge Elementary, the 'Lion's Den' has been a supportive environment that assists students in their self-calming efforts by offering them an atmosphere of relaxation. Students can participate in quiet reading time, mindful movement, breathing exercises and more!

Throughout the summer, our student services team will continue their work for the 2022-23 school year, including building restorative practice systems, more parent sessions, and additional mental health support.