School officials welcome GA Governor’s plan to prioritize mental health

EVANS COUNTY, GA (WTOC) - Georgia’s governor wants to see mental health professionals in public schools to help students and possibly save lives.

WTOC spoke to Governor Brian Kemp about his idea on Monday. Tuesday, we caught up with a local superintendent who says the help is long overdue.

Governor Kemp’s proposal certainly strikes a chord with school leaders, especially those who’ve already dipped their toe in the water.

Evans County has used the Apex Program for counselors for a few years through nearby Pineland Mental Health.

“The reality of it is, we have to accept the issue that there are stressors that children bring to school,” said Dr. Marty Waters, Evans County School Superintendent.

Gov. Kemp pledged mental health access in schools during his campaign. He says he’s doing that now by expanding the Apex Program.

“Why reinvent the wheel when there’s an existing program out there that’s working better than one we envisioned,” Gov. Kemp said.

Many lawmakers see a benefit in this - to help students and possibly prevent some school violence in the future.

“We want to help the mainstream child be the best they can be, but we’re also looking for that child that’s a problem looking for a place to explode,” said Sen. Jack Hill, Reidsville (R).

Waters says they already have counselors there one day a week and just a phone call away.

“But it would be great to have someone on site more often.”

We’ll continue to follow this proposal as it makes its way through the legislative session.

Copyright 2019 WTOC. All rights reserved.