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Partnership seeks to expand school-based mental health services

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For two years 13-year-old Khalil Barksdale has called this boarding school home. He came to Monument Academy after experiencing behavior problems at his last school.

His mother Patrice Barksdale explained, "A lot of talking back, being defiant, very argumentative, sometimes he can agitate his sibling."

Khalil told ABC7 News, "I wasn't in class a lot. One time I was just walking out cause I thought it was helping me but I just kept on getting in trouble."

Now, Khalil is learning coping strategies through mental health services at his school like counseling. Nisha Sachdev DrPH, PsyD is Senior Director of Evaluation at the Bainum Family Foundation and shared, "Every child has mental health needs whether they have a disorder or not."

The foundation is trying to meet those needs with a $4.1 million dollar investment. Sachdev continued, "Part of what we want to do is to help the schools in the universal prevention space recognize early symptoms so it doesn't get to a point where kids need treatment."

To accomplish that Bainum is partnering with the Center for Health and Health Care in Schools (CHHCS), which is part of the George Washington University's Milken Institute School of Public Health. The goal: to expand mental health services at four schools that serve students in Wards 7 and 8.

Monument Academy is one of them. Emily Bloomfield, CEO and Co-founder of Monument Academy stated, "We've received over a million dollars and it's made a significant difference. For one thing, it helped us underwrite the renovation of our third floor and also hire staff and gather information that helps us target mental health supports."

Barksdale has high hopes for her son. "I want him to strive in school. I want him to stay on point with his academics which he is doing well," she said.

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