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$12 Millon In Mental Health, Anti-Bullying Grants To Schools

Denise Juneau, Montana superintendent of public instruction.

Public school students and faculty are dealing with more than just academics today; they're also struggling with bullying and various mental and emotional health issues.

The Montana Office of Public Instruction announced today it's been awarded three grants worth over $12 million to address those needs.

School Superintendent Denise Juneau says a 5-year "School Climate Transformation" grant worth over $3 million will help reduce bullying in schools. It will also provide adults with clear guidelines on what to do when they see students being intimidated.

Juneau says a separate 5-year grant worth about $1.7 million annually will coordinate and integrate the services of over 13 state agencies to address the mental health needs of young people and their families.

The Butte, Kalispell and Browning School Districts will share over $1.2 million dollars of that grant annually.

Juneau says teachers and administrators have complicated jobs these days.

"We ask them to teach content everyday - to figure out how to work in these systems," she says,  "but we also know that our students today are dealing with very real issues of mental health, of trauma, of coming from communities where there may not be good things going on in the home environment. So, teachers and school staff need to be trained on those issues so that they can recognize those trigger points." 

Juneau says a separate $250,000 School Emergency Planning grant will help Montana schools prepare for anything from school shootings to natural disaster responses.

Edward O’Brien first landed at Montana Public Radio three decades ago as a news intern while attending the UM School of Journalism. He covers a wide range of stories from around the state.  
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