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The Region One Education Service Center recently announced that several border school districts have received two grants totaling to support counseling and mental health programs for students. We hope the recipients can use the funding to support holistic programs that include parents as a vital part of supporting students as well as identifying and addressing any potential problems.

Region One, which oversees public schools in South Texas from the Gulf Coast to Laredo, reported that five districts from Webb County to San Isidro will share a $4.9 million Project LIFT grant from the U.S. Department of Education designed to develop “social-emotional learning and mental health interventions” over five years.

In addition, 12 districts from Point Isabel to Laredo are getting Stronger Connections grants from the Texas Education Agency to train school personnel to address non-academic needs.

According to a news release from Region One, the latter grants will include “parent and family engagement” as well as providing help and resources to teachers and other campus personnel.

Both efforts are welcome in this era of increasing violence and pressures that today’s students face. Comments and news reports about mass attacks at schools and other locations flood the internet and can raise questions and concerns among young students. Moreover, healthcare professionals and advocates have warned that even preventative measures at schools such as installation of metal detectors, armed guards and active shooter drills can traumatize some children.

In addition, bullying has expanded from physical threats at school to online shaming and threats that can terrorize children. These new problems make counselors’ and teachers’ jobs more difficult, and any help they can get toward identifying and addressing students’ problems is welcome.

The Stronger Connections grants’ goal of including families in the mix is especially important. Stresses and problems affecting children aren’t limited to campus, and a holistic approach that includes both educators and families is crucial. We see frequent reports following campus violence indicating that school personnel saw warning signs and might even have met with parents before the attack, but either saw little corrective action from the families or it simply was too late — the attacker already was committed to the assault. Perhaps the parents didn’t understand the severity of the warning signs, didn’t believe their child could commit such an act, or didn’t know how to react.

Working with parents and other family members might better help them identify warning signs earlier, and better know what to do and whom to contact when those signs make themselves known.

It’s unfortunate that mental health issues are a growing part of the complex mix of issues facing students, schools and families. Any efforts toward better informing all those involved and creating networks of information and support can, it is hoped, help address students’ needs sooner, prepare parents and school personnel better, and keep our campuses safer.