State funds go to mental health providers, who will staff...

State funds go to mental health providers, who will staff the new clinics in schools, including Wyandanch Memorial High School, throughout the academic week, the governor’s office said. Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

Wyandanch Memorial High School is expected to benefit from $45,000 in state funding to help it launch a mental health clinic to meet rising student needs, officials said Thursday.

The school, which enrolls about 850 students, is one of 137 in the state — and the only one on Long Island — designated for support from the latest funding to expand satellite clinics, Gov. Kathy Hochul’s office said.

Hochul announced Thursday that more than $5.1 million was awarded statewide to support the school-based clinics.

The money goes to mental health providers who will staff the new clinics throughout the academic week, the governor’s office said in a news release.

Wyandanch officials said Thursday the district has yet to receive state guidelines on specific criteria to open such a clinic and therefore does not have a timeline on when it may open.

Educators, however, have long noted a rising student need but a shortage of mental health providers.

“Typically, when a family goes to a clinic in the community, they may wait for weeks even for an intake,” said Carl Baldini, director of special  education for Wyandanch schools. “Even on an emergency basis, it's difficult to be seen.”

Earlier this school year, Wyandanch began a partnership with Northwell Health that would allow its students to access expedited behavioral and mental health services, school officials said. The new state funding will add to the services the high school can provide to students, they said.

“Every little bit helps,” Wyandanch interim Superintendent Arlise Carson said. “What it says to us is that [the governor] and her team have recognized that the students of Wyandanch at the high school are in need of this support.”

The number of adolescents nationwide reporting poor mental health has increased, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

In 2021, about 1 in 5 students seriously considered attempting suicide and 1 in 10 attempted suicide, according to the CDC's youth risk behavior survey. Nearly half of all students said they felt persistently sad or hopeless.

In another survey, nearly 90% of public schools said they “did not strongly agree that they could effectively provide mental health services to all students in need” in the 2021-22 school year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. One primary issue schools noted was not having enough mental health professionals to manage the caseload.

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