Ohio Budget Includes Needed Funds for K-12 Student Wellness and Mental Health

February 8, 2021
Student Wellness

Last week, Governor DeWine and Lt. Governor Husted presented the Investing in Ohio Initiative as part of the Executive Budget for Fiscal Years 2022 and 2023. The Initiative contains a number of programs geared toward promoting the health – mental, physical and otherwise – of Ohio’s citizens in the wake of COVID-19. Given the challenges that students now face as they attempt to navigate the trials of virtual schooling, the K-12 Student Wellness funds are sorely needed.

Student Wellness & Success

Recognizing the disruption to the daily lives of students, the Initiative includes $1.1 billion in continued support for Student Wellness and Success programs. These programs invest in relationships between schools and community organizations to promote the social and emotional needs of students. We have seen firsthand the unique challenges that school children now face. Formerly successful students facing COVID-19 fatigue are resorting to other methods to completing their work, leading to a rise in academic misconduct and cheating cases. Students who are now isolated from their peers are taking to social media, not realizing the dangers it poses to the collegiate prospects and reputation. These problems have only been compounded for students with disabilities; navigating a 504 plan to ensure a child’s success has never been easy, but virtual learning has made it all but impossible for some students. The financial support for these programs is necessary to ensure that students have the chance to succeed.

Mental Health Services

Along with students, the Initiative acknowledges that individuals with severe mental health issues have been uniquely impacted. The Initiative includes $11 million to promote access to mental health services and recovery outside of institutions. In an ideal world, these funds will help to erode the relationship between mental health struggles, the criminal justice system, and school and workplace problems, which we see far too often.

While welcome, and necessary, these funds won’t be available soon enough for some students and individuals. If you have a student who is struggling in school or have any questions on student wellness, contact Susan Stone (scs@kjk.com or 216.736.7220) or Kristina Supler (kws@kjk.com or 216.736.7217) to learn about how our team can help.