SAN ANGELO, Texas — Concho Valley area schools have been awarded a federal grant to improve mental health resources.

Over $236,000 that the grant provides will be used to hire licensed mental health providers. The funding comes from the US Department of Education’s school-based mental health program which was recently authorized by Senator John Cornyn’s bi-partisan “Safer Communities Act”.

The legislation addresses specific concerns that have led to recent mass shootings including the need for additional mental health services and school safety resources.

“At the height of the pandemic, we saw an increase in visits to the emergency room across the county, about a 31% increase,” said Gregory Hickey, a mental health specialist. “We had incidents where kids had to go to the ER for self-harm, suicidal ideations and attempts. So we know that this is an ongoing struggle and these are all things that we can address with the help of mental health professionals in schools.”