Program to bring mental health resources to Detroit schools | Michigan Radio

Program to bring mental health resources to Detroit schools

Jan 5, 2020

Credit Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

Public school students in Detroit will soon have access to new mental health care services.

The Detroit Public Schools Community District is teaming up with a University of Michigan program called TRAILS, or Transforming Research into Action to Improve the Lives of Students.

The program will make mental health resources available to 50,000 students and 4,000 staff members throughout the district. 

Elizabeth Koschmann is TRAILS' program director. She says the majority of kids who access mental health care do it in their schools, where barriers aren't nearly as extreme.

"[In schools] there's no problem related to insurance or transportation or parent support, and kids feel a lot more comfortable reaching out to somebody they already know," Koschmann says. "So, we try to train the staff that are right there [in school], where kids can access care comfortably, safely, and affordably."

Koschmann says that some of the most common mental illnesses impacting school-age children are depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. The TRAILS program provides resources to help students and staff effectively manage symptoms. 

District officials in Detroit expect the collaboration with TRAILS will help improve social and academic outcomes across all grade levels.

"Unfortunately, federal and state education funding does not take into account that our schools and their employees must overcome the daily socioeconomical challenges our children face every day. This means we cannot simply focus on teaching and learning," Detroit School Superintendent Nikolai Vitti said, in a press release.

The TRAILS program has trained more than 400 school mental health professionals in 64 counties, beginning with Ann Arbor Public Schools in 2013.