Alabama Rep. Craig Lipscomb, alongside St. Clair County superintendent Mike Howard, welcomed in the new mental health liaison for county schools, Joshua Winslett.
Winslett is one of more than 100 mental health coordinators throughout the state as part of Alabama’s initiative to promote mental well-being in the classrooms.
Last year, the state’s legislative body approved the funding of $4.5 million to go towards school mental health initiatives, which have since been appropriated to the hiring of counselors, aides and other mental health service coordinators.
He joins St. Clair schools at a time when mental health issues are rising nationwide due to problems associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Roughly 11 percent of children between the ages of 12 and 17 reported having a major depressive episode during a single calendar year prior to the pandemic. I cannot imagine what the number has been over the past 12 months,” Winslett said. “I am thankful for the Alabama legislature in providing the resources that our students both need and deserve to address these mental health concerns.”
Dr. Howard, who has taken great interest in the mental well-being of the students in his county, echoed his appreciation of the work of legislators such as Lipscomb.
“I want to personally thank Representative Lipscomb and the entire body of legislators that have placed an emphasis upon mental health services for our students in Alabama,” Howard said. “This pandemic has showed all of us the importance of mental and physical health, and I’m grateful to work in a State where our elected officials feel the same. As we move forward, I hope that we can continue a focus on mental health for students and for staff in our schools.”
While these mental health workers continue to make a difference in schools across the state, Lipscomb promises this is just the beginning of the state mental health program for students.
“My peers and I in the House of Representatives want to see this program continue to grow and we will endeavor to make that happen,” Lipscomb said. “We know that our students are facing many difficulties these days.”