RPS, WSU, Klobuchar partner to tackle mental health issue

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(ABC 6 News) – Minnesota’s U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar visited Rochester Public Schools Monday to talk about a huge federal investment into local mental health.

The federal government will provide nearly 2-million dollars over five years to bring more social workers into Rochester Public Schools, and get more people into the profession

It’s a partnership between RPS and Winona State University’s social work program.

This new grant money will offer scholarships to 30 students to a two year masters program that will then allow them to go right into the workforce.

Klobuchar said that this comes as the country deals with a shortage of mental health professionals and alarming increases in teen mental health issues.

“I think we all know that we have come through a lot as a country. Through the pandemic everyone was in 300 million separate silos all over our country. People were isolated. And it made people who already were feeling a bit isolated in an ever changing world even more so,” Klobuchar said.

According to last year’s Minnesota student survey, 32% of RPS 11th graders have seriously considered suicide and 11.2% have actually attempted. Rochester Public Schools also hopes to add at least four social work staff over the next five years, the district currently has 32.

WSU’s program is really meant to be flexible to each students needs, they have online options and night classes. So that people that might have another job or have a family to take care of can still get a degree.