From the pressure of living in poverty to street violence and the foreclosure crisis that tore through many of Chicago’s communities, many students in Chicago Public Schools were handling a lot before the pandemic. Now, one year into the COVID-19 crisis that has left Black and Latino communities with higher rates of illness and death, students are facing anxiety, grief and even deeper economic uncertainty. Thousands of students have disengaged from school altogether.

At North-Grand High School in Chicago’s Hermosa neighborhood, a team of school counselors, case managers and a social worker make up the behavioral health team charged with supporting students with low attendance, discipline issues or trouble at home.

In a couple of years, every Chicago school could have a team just like it. That’s the goal of a new district initiative to train school staff in trauma-informed student support practices.

Monday’s announcement of a $24 million mental health plan offers a first look at how Chicago plans to spend some of the $1.8 billion in federal stimulus funds coming its way. Officials plan to spend the money across three years to expand the number of behavioral support teams from 200 schools to closer to 500 and enlist more help from community groups through grants. At the center of that work is a recognized need for a culturally relevant and trauma-supported approach to helping Chicago students.

Read the full article about mental health in high schools by Yana Kunichoff at Chalkbeat.