In a press release on Friday, Binghamton's Care Compass Network announced it had been awarded grant funding to administer mental health training to local school districts.

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Care Compass Network was awarded $625,000 from the Department of Health and Human Services and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services, spread out over a five year period. The funds were awarded to implement an evidence-based suicide awareness and prevention training program to four school districts in Broome County. The Covid-19 pandemic and everything that came with it led to an increase in mental health issues nationwide, but students especially were hit hard due to the isolation the pandemic forced during their formative years.

"The pandemic and its devastating impacts on the mental health and well-being of our community, especially for our children, was at the forefront when we began developing the framework in late 2020," said Care Compass Network senior project manager Bouakham Rosetti. "This tiered based framework builds upon our previous work under the NYS Medicaid DSRIP which will strengthen and support our educational community's ability and capacity through the delivery of evidence-based trainings, creation/development of a closed-loop communication workflow, and train-the-trainer program for sustainability."

According to the press release, a 2019 CDC report noted that more than half of high school students reported persistent feelings of sadness and hopelessness and the number of black students who reported attempting suicide rose by almost 50%. The hope is that the funding awarded to Care Compass Network will help teachers and administrators at local schools identify the signs of mental health struggles and learn how to properly intervene.

Lauren Greco, a project manager at Care Compass Network, stated "This grant will allow us to collaboratively develop a suicide awareness and prevention training plan that will help our local school communities to normalize conversations related to mental health, and to provide early intervention for mental illness and suicide."

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