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The Stoughton Area School District will be getting a mental health crisis team in the coming school year, joining six other school districts in Dane County’s Building Bridges program.

The Stoughton team will serve four schools in the district, River Bluff Middle School and Fox Prairie, Kegonsa and Sandhill elementary schools.

The program will have two mental health experts to serve kindergarten through eighth-grade students who are in immediate need of mental health help.

A policy initiative of County Executive Joe Parisi, Building Bridges started in 2014 as a pilot program in Madison, Sun Prairie and Verona. It expanded to DeForest, Middleton-Cross Plains and Wisconsin Heights school districts.

“Proactively reaching out to students and making sure we address mental health issues at the earliest signs is a smart and healthy initiative to take part in, not only for a school district but for Dane County as a whole,” Parisi said.

“Investing in Dane County’s younger residents’ mental health shows we take their futures seriously and want to see them grow to thrive in our community,” Parisi said.

Dane County and Stoughton will share the $126,000 cost of the program.

“The Stoughton Area School District has been faced with students who are coming to school with various challenges, including mental health and trauma, and, as with any public school, we accept all children in our community of learners,” said Keli Melcher, director of student services for the Stoughton district.

The Building Bridges mental health crisis teams not only work with students but also with staff to help them understand mental health issues, as well as get families, schools and students connected to the necessary resources.

There is no cost to families for the services provided by the mental health crisis teams.

Dane County’s budget has close to $500,000 for the crisis teams this year.

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Bill Novak is a general assignment reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal.