District Health Department No. 10, the United Way of Mason County and the West Shore Educational Service District are leading efforts to improve the system of mental health services for school-aged children in Mason County, according to a press release from DHD10.

The project will accomplish this work by establishing an interconnected mental health system. Representatives from the three partnering agencies will serve as co-leads for the project, convening leaders from all four public school districts as well as community agencies that currently offer mental health services within the school setting, according to the release.

“It is truly an honor for West Shore ESD to partner with local agencies and school districts to support our youth and their mental health. The Michigan Health Endowment Fund grant will allow us to develop a community-wide, unified approach to addressing their mental health needs, so our youth feel safe and know they are not alone,” stated Jennifer Rollenhagen, West Shore ESD multi-tiered system of support manager, in the release.

The project involves a two-year process, from planning to implementation, according to the release. Year one of the grant will focus on bringing leadership together to discuss changes needed to improve mental health outcomes for students across the county. Year two will focus on implementation of the interconnected system.

A long-term goal of this collaborative project is to improve mental health outcomes for youth in Mason County, according to the release. The team will work to create an integrated system for care. Improvements to mental health services for students have many positive impacts, such as increased attendance rates, test scores, and improved perceptions of school climate and culture.

“United Way of Mason County is very excited to partner with area school districts and mental health agencies to develop a more streamlined approach to providing mental health services to our student population. The need for mental health services for school age children has grown exponentially over the past few years, and we look forward to working side-by-side with schools and agencies to make a positive impact,” stated Lynne Russell, United Way of Mason County executive director, in the release.

This project is supported through funding from The Michigan Health Endowment Fund, according to the release. The Michigan Health Endowment Fund works to improve the health and wellness of Michigan residents and reduce the cost of healthcare, with a special focus on children and seniors. More information about the Health Fund can be found at www.mihealthfund.org.

To learn more about this project, please contact one of the co-lead staff:

• Jennifer Rollenhagen, West Shore ESD, jrollenhagen@wsesd.org, 231-898-1673

• Lynne Russell, United Way of Mason County, lynne@masoncountyuw.org, 231-843-8593

• Erin Coe, District Health Department No. 10, ecoe@dhd10.org, 231-383-6552

• Katie Miller, District Health Department No. 10, kmiller@dhd10.org, 231- 316-8567

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