Mental and Physical Health

Chart: Mental and Physical Health. SEL materials, training and programs: 1,457. Family communications/engagement: 1,038. Behavioral/mental health: 1,035. Public health protocols/testing/vaccination: 683. Counseling and mentorship: 446. Nutrition programs/meals during closure: 360. Nursing equipment/supplies/clinics: 313. Wraparound services: 293. Training on virus mitigation: 197. (This chart is based on a June 7 compilation by the data-services firm Burbio of Covid-relief spending plans released by 5,004 school districts and charter schools in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. The sample represents roughly 74% of the nation's public-school students and receives $83 billion of the $122 billion in Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER III) funds. The categories include spending to address physical and mental health concerns.)

The pandemic presents twin health risks for students and staff. The initial concern, and much of the spending in the early rounds of Covid relief aid, went toward preventing the spread of Covid and keeping students and staff members healthy. Amid the isolation and trauma of the past year, though, mental health emerged as a serious concern. Depression, anxiety, and thoughts of suicide increased in many populations. As schools reopened in the fall, behavioral outbursts among students underscored the need to improve school climate and adopt an equitable approach to discipline.

Spending on social-emotional learning–combining three Burbio categories for curriculum, training and programs–topped the list of how districts plan to invest Covid relief money in this category. Family and community engagement are also priorities, as are counseling and mentoring. Many districts plan to continue spending on public health protocols, vaccinations, and testing.

View our regional analysis of spending plans

View our analysis of rural, urban and suburban spending plans


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Graphic by Merry Alderman