Giving Compass' Take:

• Lack of collaboration and school funding mechanisms are leaving California students without proper mental health services that address their needs.

• The author mentions that the Governor's current proposal instills policies that connect school districts to the Department of Health Care Services. The problem is that schools do not have opportunities nor the funding sometimes to participate in programs that this department offers. Stronger support and coordination between the two entities needs to happen to ensure students are receiving the help they ask for. 

• Read about this online resource for students that helps address mental health issues. 

As public awareness and understanding of student mental health and wellness grows, state policy leaders have opportunities to ensure that schools can access resources and support to identify and address these needs early.

And time is critical — rates of depression, stress and suicide attempts by students are rising and school leaders report student mental health issues as growing and serious concerns. In our work as advocates for districts and county superintendents, we hear from education leaders across California a constant refrain of their need for greater capacity and resources to address student mental health and wellness. The impact on students and their families of recent wildfires and the resulting devastation have heightened these concerns.

While schools’ efforts over the last several years in building multi-tiered systems of support with inclusive behavior and social-emotional supports have made a dent in these concerns, there is more the state can do to strengthen local efforts.

What we see and hear is the frustration of school leaders about lack of access to tools and funding to help students deal with mental health issues and promote wellness — especially for the most vulnerable children.

An ongoing challenge has been ensuring that school districts have opportunities to participate in programs and access to available funding for student mental health services. Too few county behavioral health departments have collaborative relationships with school districts to provide these critical services and they are too often not working in schools — where children and young people are present.

To address this situation, the governor’s proposal should be expanded to add steps that promote collaboration and allow schools to access and implement federal funding for a comprehensive array of prevention, diagnostic and treatment services for low-income infants, children and adolescents under age 21, including mental health services.

Read the full article about mental health services in schools for kids by Laura Wasco and Jeff Frost at EdSource