Hopkins Co. School officials tackling youth mental health, hires 13 new counselors

Hopkins Co. School officials tackling youth mental health, hires 13 new counselors
Published: Sep. 8, 2023 at 5:30 PM CDT
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HOPKINS COUNTY, Ky. (WFIE) - It’s been a growing issue in younger children, and local leaders are focusing in on providing resources for children struggling with mental health.

In May, Kentucky state officials announced over $13 million in grant funding for Kentucky schools to hire mental health counselors.

One of those districts was Hopkins County, and officials were able to hire 13 new counselors.

“Since COVID really, there’s been an uptick in issues with anxiety, not just in students but in adults as well,” District Therapist David Kyle said.

According to the Kentucky Department of Education, 1 in 7 students in Kentucky say they’ve seriously considered suicide in a 12 month period.

“It’s always been there, but now it’s in the forefront, people are talking about it, realizing the importance of it,” Kyle said. “There’s non longer a stigma to it as to what it used to be.”

[PREVIOUS: New initiative set for more mental health resources at Hopkins Co. School District]

“The funding we received this year will cover the salaries for this year to get the program started,” Assistant Superintendent Dr. Damon Fleming said. “We will continue to seek other grants as they become available to help offset some general fund spending.”

Dr. Fleming says they’ve hired 13 new counselors, up from their previous number of two. Dr. Fleming says the benefits aren’t limited to the district.

“This is not just a program that benefits our school, it benefits our community and we’ve seen just an outpouring of support from the community for us when hiring these mental health counselors,” Dr. Fleming said.

For longtime district therapists, like Kyle, the new funding will allow students to have access to resources in house as opposed to having to leave school.

“The parent will have the option, they can use us instead of having to check the child out of school, miss a half day of work miss a half day of school,” Kyle said. “They can now do that in building and receive that treatment.”

Kyle says they’re ready to encounter issues that go beyond training and hopefully make an impact on the students who really need the help.

“Hopefully if we can catch some of these issues early enough, then we’ll teach the appropriate coping skills as they get older,” Kyle said.

Dr. Fleming says the district will continue to fund the initiative, even when grants may not be available.