Carilion Clinic Receives Grant for Fallon Park Elementary School Mental Health Professionals

ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) — Fallon Park Elementary School will hire more mental health professionals to work with students. This is part of a scholarship from United Health Care.

The Carilion Clinic has received $230,000 to help students at Fallon Park Elementary School with mental health. The grant will cover the salaries of three mental health professionals who will work with nearly 30 students in the classroom.

Carilion’s school strategy consultant explained that the grant comes at a time when teachers need an extra hand.

“The whole class will benefit from the reduction of disruptions that really distract from learning and also consume a lot of teachers’ energy,” said Heather Millar. “Now teachers can really focus on helping students learn.”

The Calm and Safe Classrooms counseling program will help students who have difficulty managing their emotions. Millar explained that the resources would only be available to students at Fallon Park Elementary.

“Fallon Park students, many of whom live in economically disadvantaged families, and often that leads to a lot of stress and possibly trauma,” Millar said. “It really affects young children in ways that we didn’t really understand before.”

United Health Care has donated $1 million to nonprofits across the Commonwealth. The CEO of Virginia Community Health Plan for United Health Care explained that the pandemic has highlighted a need for mental health resources.

“The pandemic has sent cortisol levels and stress levels through the roof, so these types of grants have been set aside to allow us to partner with community organizations that work closely together in communities,” said said Tameeka Smith.

A Carilion Clinic psychologist will supervise mental health professionals through Local impact for tomorrow (LIFTING).

“It’s similar to a residency program where mental health professionals will be supervised, they’ll get direction, and they’ll work directly with students who are really struggling to regulate their behavior and emotions,” Millar said.

LIFT hopes to fill the positions in the next school year.

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