CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK)- Marshall University has been granted more than $1.6 million to train mental health providers for West Virginia schools.

Senate Appropriation Committee members Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito announced today that the U.S. Department of Education Mental Health Service Professionals Demonstration Program has granted the University $1,660,220. This funding will support the training of school-based mental health service providers to be employed in schools and local educational agencies across West Virginia.

“Strengthening school-based mental health services is a top priority of mine,” said Senator Manchin. “I am pleased the Department of Education is investing more than $1.6 million in Marshall University. I look forward to seeing the positive impacts of the funding and as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I will continue advocating for resources to bolster mental health services and support our students across the Mountain State.”

According to the senators, the Department of Education’s Mental Health Service Professionals Demonstration Program provides funding to establish innovative partnerships between higher education institutions, local schools, and educational agencies. It also provides training school counselors, social workers, psychologists and other mental health professionals qualified to provide school-based mental health services.

Senator Capito said, “Children are the future of West Virginia, which is why it’s imperative that we do what we can to make sure they have the best education and, by extension, the best school resources possible. Mental health struggles among younger age groups have risen the last ten years, but counseling services at schools have not improved at the same rate. This grant provides Marshall University with the resources to train a new generation of mental health professionals who will make classrooms a place for children to be excited and learn.”

The senator say the goal of the Department of Education’s Mental Health Service Professionals Demonstration Program is to expand the pipeline of those workers into low-income public schools to address shortages of school-based mental health service professionals.