This winter and spring,130 public schools across North Carolina will receive mental and behavioral health training and consultation through the North Carolina Psychiatry Access Line.

Officially, those services are designed “to ensure participating K-12 school staff have the support they need to help their students who may be dealing with mental and behavioral health concerns. The program is free to local schools as part of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services [NCDHHS] StrongSchoolsNC COVID-19 Testing Program.”

In a Thursday, Dec. 8 press release, the NCDHHS stated that there’s an urgent and tremendous need to support behavioral health efforts in schools across the state.

The release points out that, during the pandemic, the rate of children discharged from an emergency department with a behavioral health condition increased by as much as 70 percent.

NCDHHS Secretary Kody H. Kinsley explained the good things he believes the support will bring about.

“The North Carolina Psychiatry Access Line expands access to mental health care for children in a dramatic way,” Kinsley stated. “Now, staff in 130 schools will have direct access to psychiatric experts who can help them better support our students. Expanding access to psychiatric experts is one of the many ways we are investing in behavioral health as well as the well-being of children and families across North Carolina.”

According to NCDHHS officials, moving forward, school administrators and counselors won’t need to worry that they don’t have the “tools and support to succeed in their work with youth experiencing emotional distress, having suicidal thoughts or struggling with aggressive behaviors.”

School behavioral health teams working will have access to a child psychiatry expert who will provide consultation and training based on behavioral health concerns.

Ever since the pandemic, there’s been a high need for more mental help support services in schools.