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East Grand Rapids Public Schools receives $1 million gift to improve mental health

The money is planned to be used to help increase self-awareness for navigating stress and anxiety in students.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Student mental health has become a national crisis.

A new federal study found 45 percent of high school students feel persistently sad or hopeless, to the point where they are unable to engage in regular activities

East Grand Rapids Public Schools wants to change that. They've recently been awarded a $1 million gift through an anonymous donor to support student mental health.

Amy Stuursma is the Executive Director of the East Grand Rapids Schools Foundation and says the generous gift is from an alumni of EGR High School.

Stuursma says the money will help increase self-awareness for navigating stress and anxiety in students.

"It allows us to provide support and resources not only to our staff, but to our students, so that they are aware and have more self awareness to be looking for triggers for anxiety [and] worry. It also gives them a toolkit, a toolkit to help them identify these resources, know when they need help and seek help," Sturrsma explained.

She also said that a focus on student's mental health can benefit teachers as well. 

"Our teachers are thrown a lot in their classroom, they're given many things to deal with every single day. And this is just another layer that we're hoping by providing them with training and resources, they'll be able to help students along the way."

The donation allowed East Grand Rapids Public Schools to hire a wellness coordinator and an additional social worker. These new resources will hopefully help identify any mental health problems before they become an issue.

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