Collingswood, Metuchen to begin offering mental health services to elementary students

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The residents of two New Jersey towns have voted to approve funding for mental health services for younger students.

The programs in Collingswood and Metuchen will raise some taxes. But educators say that helping to improve the mental health of the children in their communities is worth it.

“We're talking about children's well-being and potentially children's lives,” says Metuchen School Superintendent Dr. Vincent Caputo.

The Metuchen School District is in the process of implementing $700,000 from taxpayers into the mental health program for elementary and middle school students.

"This is my 30th year in education and I’ve seen personally more emotional issues, more anxiety, more depression in students in the last five than in the previous 25,” Caputo says.

A program is already in place at the high school level and officials say that it is working.

“With that part of the funding, bringing this program, which will put on-site mental health clinicians in our elementary and middle schools, and then the other parts of the funding will supplement that with staff and with academic and emotional programs,” says Caputo.

Collingswood voters approved $225,000 to go to help students at the elementary level with mental health services.

"We are finding that we have more issues of mental health and concerns at the elementary level then we have had ever before,” says Collingswood Superintendent Dr. Scott Oswald.

The funding will help the district hire a full-time mental health counseling coordinator who can help students in the classroom and at home with their families.

“Often times, particularly with the little guys, part of the solution is to really get the family involved in social services,” says Oswald. “We're hoping to be able to do that as part of our outreach to some community organizations that'll help us with this initiative."

Officials in both districts say they hope to have these positions filled and ready to go by the start of 2020.

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