Carilion Clinic receives grant for mental health professionals at Fallon Park Elementary School’s LIFT Center

Published: Aug. 14, 2022 at 5:03 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Fallon Park Elementary School will be getting more mental health professionals to work with students. It’s part of a grant award from United Health Care.

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

Carilion’s school-based strategy consultant explained the grant comes at a time when teachers need an extra set of hands.

“The entire classroom will benefit by reducing those disruptions that really distract from learning and also take up a lot of teacher energy,” Heather Millar said. “Now the teachers can really focus on helping the students learn.”

The Calm and Safe Classrooms counseling program will help individual students who are struggling to manage their emotions. Millar explained the resources would only be available for students at Fallon Park Elementary.

“The students at Fallon Park, many of them live in economically disadvantaged families and a lot of times what comes with that is a lot of stress and maybe some trauma,” Millar said. “That really affects young kids in a way we previously didn’t really understand.”

United Health Care donated $1 million to non-profits across the Commonwealth. The CEO for Virginia Community Health Plan for United Health Care explained the pandemic highlighted a need for mental health resources.

“The pandemic has driven cortisol levels and levels of stress through the roof, so these types of grants have been set aside to make a pathway for us to partner with the community based organizations that are working really closely in communities,” Tameeka Smith said.

A Carilion Clinic psychologist will oversee the mental health professionals through Local Impact for Tomorrow (LIFT).

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

LIFT hopes to fill the positions during the upcoming school year.

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