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Duval Schools Announces $15M Mental Health Program For Middle School Students

Peter Haden

Duval County Public Schools are rolling out a new, $15 million program to address mental health issues in middle school students.

School superintendent Nikolai Vitti made the announcement Tuesday at Jefferson Davis Middle School on the Westside.

“When we think about public schools, K-12, we think of reading, math and science. We don’t think about mental health,” Vitti said. “Yet, a lot of the issues we see demonstrated on the surface on a disciplinary level are linked to mental health issues.”

The school district will place motivational coaches trained in psychology and social work in most of the county’s middle schools over the next five years. The coaches will work with at-risk students individually and in small groups to improve coping and conflict-management skills.

The program is based on a successful model used in New York City and Miami. It is funded entirely by private donations and grants from private insurance companies.

You can follow Peter Haden @HadenMedia.