Leon County Schools to hire more mental health counselors

Leon County Schools is receiving more money from the state for mental health this year, but administrators say this still isn’t enough to help the growing number of students who need support in the county.

The Mental Health Assistance Allocation from the state is approximately $1.6 million this year compared to last year’s $1.4 million.

“The data says that students need more of these services now just based on what’s been happening in the world,” said Tonja Fitzgerald, director of support and mental health services.

More:Leon County Schools test scores increase in math and English, but ‘much to be done’

A photograph of a classroom in the first week of Leon County Schools students returning during the coronavirus pandemic, August 2020.

Fitzgerald said district data shows an increase in anxiety across all school grades, and the number of students who have had to be Baker Acted in the county has increased over the past four years.

“I think teachers are trying to keep up with the academics, so there’s more pressure on the kids to keep up too, on top of kids continually adapting to a new environment after the pandemic,” said Jenny Bickley, the president of Canopy Oaks Elementary School parent-teacher organization. “I mean, parents are still trying to catch up, too.”

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