Home > Essays > Tennessee Should Fund Mental Health Expansion Through County Health Departments

Tennessee Should Fund Mental Health Expansion Through County Health Departments

April 24, 2021


In the mid-1990s when I was Superintendent in Maryland the State mandated that each school have a certified nurse. After running some numbers in the district I led it was clear that we would have to use every “new dollar” we would reasonably expect to pay for this initiative since we had nurses assigned to only 10% of our schools and no one on our staff to supervise or support them. Moreover if we paid the nurses on the teacher pay scale we would be paying more than the local hospitals by far. The solution that was best for all, I believed, was to have the county health department hire them, and partner with schools to recruit, support and evaluate them. In that way we would not disrupt the local hospital’s workforce, provide opportunities for many nurses to get work hours that matched their children’s school hours, and fulfill a state mandate and. need without compromising our budget. This idea worked for all concerned.

This personal experience was brought to mind when I read about the Governor of Tennessee’s ideas about providing universal mental health services in schools which he viewed as being offered through the systems or the states. His funding gambit, creating a trust fund, might have promise as well if he could get the billionaires who support charter schools to direct their donations to the foundation for mental health.

%d bloggers like this: