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Onondaga County Invests More Than $5 Million To Support Students' Mental Health

 Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon discusses the new plan to improve mental health services in schools, Sept. 16, 2021.
Onondaga County/Twitter
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Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon discusses the new plan to improve mental health services in schools, Sept. 16, 2021.

Students are returning to school amid yet another a tumultuous, pandemic-impacted year, and Onondaga County is investing millions to support their mental health during the transition.

County Executive Ryan McMahon announced on Thursday a $5.5 million investment to increase staff for on-site mental health services at schools. The funds will boost the ranks to a total of 75 student assistant specialists, 28 access liaisons, and 60 licensed clinicians. Nearly every district in the county is participating in the initiative, including Marcellus.

Marcellus Superintendent Michelle Brantner said the effort is worth helping even a single student.

"If there’s a child that’s hurting and could go on to do something that might harm him or herself — as long as one child is helped, I’ll be thrilled," Brantner said.

The program is a partnership between Onondaga County, SUNY Upstate, St. Joseph’s, Helio Health, Arise, and Liberty Resources. It’s a response to the effects of COVID-19 on students, who are entering their second school year during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.