PRESCOTT -- Grant funds are aiding efforts to provide mental health education for all 6-12 Prescott School District students and bolster the relationships between Pierce County and other local school districts.

Prescott School District recently received a $25,000 First Episode Psychosis/Early Severe Mental Illness grant from the state in collaboration with Pierce County.

Ron Kiesler, community behavioral health manager for Pierce County, said this grant was created to serve the mental health needs of 15-to-25-year-olds in Wisconsin.

Kari Weiss, Prescott’s mental health navigator who now works as a family living educator for Pierce County, and Kiesler wrote the grant in partnership. Their hope is that Prescott will act as a model program to create and support stronger relationships between the county and schools to address students’ mental health needs, according to Prescott director of human services Mark Inouye.

“Grants are often good ways to get things started, to prove to staff and stakeholders that money is being spent in an efficient and good way and essentially it’s worthwhile,” Inouye said. “I think the county and school districts have done a good job of focusing on the whole student and not just academics.”

Prescott’s integration of purchased curriculum such as Habitudes for middle and high school students and Middle School Second Step will enhance social-emotional learning for all students, Inouye said.

“Research says if a student is emotional and socially healthy, test scores follow right along, and ensures meeting the needs of all students,” Inouye said.

Habitudes’ website states the system is more than a leadership education tool, it also instills “valuable life skills.” Middle School Second Step promotes its program as one that empowers students to navigate decisions, relationships and emotions.

Inouye said staff will include specific lessons at designated times for 6-12 graders and/or have opportunities to connect with individual teachers or in small peer groups.