Student crisis hotline now “competitive”

I don’t know how many school districts operate crisis hotlines for students suffering from depression or other emotional or psychological problems, but one that does is the Fort Bend ISD, which launched its “Talkline: You Share, We Care” program during the 200809 school year. It provides middle and highschool students anonymous access to a staff of certified counselors trained in crisis intervention.

This school year, the hotline’s second, it received an award for excellence from the Texas School Health Association. It will be back for a third year of helping students in 201011. After that, though, it may be history, still another victim of tightening education budgets, according to a recent article in the Fort Bend SunNews.

The hotline has been funded by the federal government through a Safe and DrugFree School entitlement grant. But that grant soon will become competitive, forcing FBISD to find another source of funding or scrap what apparently has been a very positive program.

“We are looking at federal competitive grants as possibilities for continued funding, but we will be fighting with all of the other school districts to try to get some of that money,” Bob Conlon, the district’s director of student support services, told the newspaper.

More and more, it seems, both the federal and state governments would rather see school districts spend an increasing amount of time fighting each other, rather than educating kids. And turning to Austin for help could be particularly futile in the face of a budgetary shortfall expected to hit $15 billion or more by the time the Legislature convenes in January.

The Fort Bend hotline averages 350 calls a month. Fortyfour percent of calls involve depression or sadness. Six percent relate to thirdparty suicide, 3 percent concern abuse or neglect, 3 percent relate to pregnancy and 3 percent to bullying.


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