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Shaheen Applauds Over $763,000 Heading to UNH to Support School Social Work Program

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, led the New Hampshire congressional delegation in welcoming $763,446 in federal funds from the U.S. Department of Education to the University of New Hampshire (UNH). The funds will support UNH’s Social Work and Education Department’s collaboration with the Manchester School District to support the development of a School Social Work Track and a graduate certificate focused on trauma, diversity and inclusion to alleviate personnel shortages and improve the quality of school mental health personnel and services to children.

These funds were allocated as part of the Department of Education’s Mental Health Service Professionals Demonstration Program. This program provides competitive grants to test and evaluate innovative partnerships between institutions of higher education (IHE) and states or high-need local education agencies (LEA) to train school counselors, social workers, psychologists or other mental health professionals qualified to provide school-based mental health services. The program aims to expand the pipeline of these workers into low-income public elementary schools and secondary schools in order to address the shortages of mental health service professionals in such schools.

“This collaboration between UNH and the Manchester School District to train additional mental health professionals for our schools is so urgently needed. The pandemic hit our kids the hardest, so I'm very encouraged to see federal resources being invested to respond directly to this crisis affecting New Hampshire students and their families,” said Senator Shaheen. “As we combat the ongoing youth mental health crisis, addressing this problem head on is essential to ensuring students have the support they need when they need it.”

“I have heard from students across New Hampshire who are concerned that they and their classmates are not getting the mental health support that they need,” Senator Hassan said. “This grant to the University of New Hampshire will strengthen training and help get more mental health professionals in our schools, particularly schools with the highest need. I will continue working to expand our mental health care workforce so that Granite Staters of all ages have access to the support that they need.”

“Mental health resources and support are essential for our communities’ well-being and for Granite Staters to thrive – including our students,” said Congresswoman Kuster, founder and co-chair of the Bipartisan Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Task Force. “We need to ensure we are investing in the next generation of mental health providers to serve our schools and help our youngest citizens navigate their lives. I’m thrilled to help announce these funds heading to UNH and look forward to the positive impact they will have.”

“It’s critical that we work to improve training for mental health professionals and ensure our schools have the personnel to meet our students’ mental health needs,” said Congressman Pappas. “This funding will help train future mental health professionals, address personnel shortages, and improve mental health services available to students in New Hampshire. I’ll keep working to bring federal resources like this back to our state to address the mental health crisis.”

“This is an exciting opportunity for UNH to collaborate with the Manchester School District to develop, implement, and improve equity-based inclusive programs by training counselors, social workers, educators, and other professionals who work with students with and without disabilities,” said Mary Schuh, research associate professor of education at the University of New Hampshire. “We are hopeful that this will help expand the number of professionals in high-need schools who can focus on the quality of education and school mental health and provide better outcomes for all students.”

“As we continue to plan forward given the impacts of the pandemic and workforce shortage, we are actively working to develop pipelines so we can grow our educators with the goal of growing our learners. These federal resources will play an important role in helping us to meet those goals,” said Jennifer Gillis, the Superintendent of the Manchester School District.

Senator Shaheen is a leader in the Senate working to shine light on the mental health crisis and promote suicide prevention efforts. A senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Shaheen worked to secure $111 million for the Department of Education to provide these demonstration grants to support school-based mental health personnel and services. She has also provided New Hampshire-specific awards to address mental health through the congressionally directed spending process in the most recent government funding law. Shaheen also fought to provide funding for mental health care during the pandemic, including $4.25 billion in funding through emergency COVID relief legislation and nearly $4 billion through the American Rescue Plan. She hosted virtual discussions on the youth and teen mental health epidemic during the pandemic, which spurred her to introduce the Mental Health Excellence in Schools Act, as well as the Elementary and Secondary School Counseling Act, to increase the availability of mental health services in America’s public schools.