CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - The commonwealth has a shortage of mental health counselors at its public schools. Now, a multi-million dollar grant is trying to change that by funding more training for current professionals and bringing new ones in.

The Virginia Department of Education is spreading $2.5 million across six school divisions. With the cash, Charlottesville City Schools (CCS) will partner with the University of Virginia Curry School of Education to create online training for counselors.

“Our aim for this project is to increase not only the quantity but the quality of school mental health professionals,” said Julia Taylor, assistant professor of counselor education.

“The current mental health professionals in our school building - so school counselors, social workers, nurses, psychologists - will be getting modules from the Curry School,” said Jodie Murphy, mental wellness facilitator for CCS.

Those modules - online training - will teach professionals to work with grad students who are completing field internships.

“One of the important pieces of becoming a professional in a mental health field is that there's a need to do fieldwork,” Assistant Professor in Clinical and School Psychology Michael Lyons said.

The grant will help pay for the training, as well as financial incentives for students accepting employment in high-need areas.

“We always need mental health experts, psychologists, school counselors, social workers. We need more, especially in the school,” said Murphy. “When our mental health is not stable, when we're not emotionally our best, it's hard to learn, it's hard to function.”

Others places getting the grant money include Waynesboro, Staunton, and Buckingham County schools. Each of the divisions was chosen based on criteria to improve mental health services at schools in small cities and rural areas with high percentages of economically disadvantaged students.