September 29, 2022
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Money to be allocated in Birmingham city budget for student mental health

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) – Nine Birmingham City School students have been killed so far in 2022. Officials all across the city are trying to figure out how to stop this trend.

The proposed 2023 fiscal year budget has millions of dollars going toward investing in the city’s young people.

The city council president says it all starts with looking at mental health in a different way.

“We know in a lot of our communities, mental health and seeking that awareness can be stigmatized,” said Wardine Alexander, Birmingham City Council President. She says the stigma is costing students’ lives.

Alexander attended the graduation at Wenonah High School on Thursday, where she said a parent had to receive the diploma for their child. Janiyah Simmons is just one of nine BCS students killed this year.

“If I’m sitting in the classroom or I grew up in a neighborhood with one of those students, of course that can impact me negatively,” said Alexander.

That’s why the City Council has a proposed budget of $1 million to go toward mental health services in the schools.

“We’d like to get a counselor that could be in the schools to not only help our students deal with conflict resolution, but when they are involved in any type of unsafe circumstance, they can have a true mental health professional that could work with them,” said the city council president.

President Alexander says the stigma surrounding mental health is preventing growth and teaching children how to deal with problems while they are young can help prevent violence in years to come.

“I also want to be sure that we focus on that conflict resolution – what we can do before a situation gets violent,” said Alexander. “So, this violence is touching all families. It’s not unique to the City of Birmingham but this is just one way we want to combat this problem.”

The City Council is looking for community input on the 2023 fiscal year budget.

On Monday, June 6 and Thursday, June 16 they are hosting budget hearings to take any questions and concerns. It’s happening at 5:30 p.m. in the City Council Chambers.

Read the Budget here.

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