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Grants announced for school-linked mental health services

BEMIDJI -- Area school districts are set to benefit from grants aimed to increase access to mental health services.

The Minnesota Department of Human Services on Thursday announced $45.4 million in grants to be dispersed under five-year contracts with 36 mental health organizations to provide school-linked mental health services to approximately 35,000 students in more than 800 schools across 257 school districts and 82 counties by 2018.

More than half of those students will receive mental health services for the first time, according to a DHS release.

The grant recipients include Stellher Human Services, headquartered in Bemidji, which is set to receive $1.6 million. Those funds will be used to provide services to students in 20 schools and two HeadStart programs, including the one through BiCAP.

Schools set to benefit under the Stellher grant include those in the Bemidji School District and TrekNorth, Schoolcraft and Voyageurs, as well as those in Blackduck, Kelliher, Laporte, Nevis, Bagley, Clearbrook-Gonvick and Waubun—Ogema-White Earth.

Schools in the Walker-Hackensack-Akeley district will also benefit from funds, but those services will come from a grant to go to North Homes Children & Family Services.

The $45.4 million investment follows a commitment last session from Gov. Mark Dayton and the Minnesota Legislature to double the capacity in schools for mental health early intervention and treatment services.

The grant announcement came on Thursday, the National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day, and also in the 25th anniversary year for the Minnesota Comprehensive Children's Mental Health Act.