MCALLEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — Hidalgo County Judge Richard Cortez announced a partnership Thursday that aimed at addressing the mental wellness of area students in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking at the Hope Family Health Center in McAllen, he met with clinic officials and school district superintendents affiliated with area districts to initiate this skills-building opportunity among ISD mental health professionals involving a technique known as EMDR therapy.

“We are beginning to see a lot of hard evidence that suggests the mental well-being of students, in particular, suffered tremendously because of the COVID pandemic,” said Judge Cortez. “In 2021, more than one-third of high school students reported that they had experienced poor mental health during the pandemic, and 44 percent reported they persistently felt sad or hopeless during the past year. This partnership is aimed at addressing the mental health of our students.”

In his press conference this morning Cortez committed $60,000 in American Rescue Funds to assist the clinic to address the trauma of the COVID-19 pandemic for individuals.

“We appreciate this initiative by the county judge because of the mounting evidence that the mental wellness of our students has been affected by the pandemic,” said Roxanne Ramirez, with the Hope Family Health Center.

To date, fifty mental health specialists affiliated with area school districts have registered to take advantage of this opportunity.