By Nick Sestanovich
While many students are happy to be returning to campuses after being away for so long, the isolation stemming from the yearlong closure of schools due to the COVID-19 pandemic has also taken a toll on their mental health.
It is an area educators throughout the country are working to address and one that staff at Eugene Padan Elementary School have placed emphasis on.
Kindergarten teacher Kimberly Arnold said this has included incorporating social-emotional learning curricula at every grade level, establishing a committee to support best practices for teaching such curricula, and hiring mental health practitioners to support students most in need.
Source: Coronavirus: Padan prioritizes mental health lessons as students return – The Reporter
School-based mental health services and support programs are important to creating safe and supportive learning environments.
The Vacaville Unified School District has developed a new tool to provide students with a variety of resources.
Teacher Kim Arnold and Joanna Littell, a mental health physician, joined KCRA 3 on Wednesday to talk about available mental health support for students.
Source: Q&A: Vacaville School District officials explain new tool for student mental health support
By Carolyn Jones
With students facing ever-growing levels of depression and anxiety as the pandemic wears on, nearly everyone agrees that school districts need to expand their mental health services.
But budget uncertainties have stymied school districts’ efforts to hire more counselors and psychologists, leaving mental health advocates worried that thousands of students in California won’t receive the help they need.
“Basically, nearly every student in California has been traumatized,” said Melanee Cottrill, executive director of the California Association of School Psychologists. “We expect to see a huge demand when school reopens, and we are very concerned about meeting the needs of students.”
Source: Schools want to hire more counselors amid budget woes – The Reporter
By Daily Republic Staff
A series of Monday webchats to help teens and young adults to cope with the stresses of Covid-19 has been extended through June.
The Mental Health Mondays webchats will be facilitated by Student Wellness Specialists from Solano County Office of Education Student and Program Support Department.
“In the wake of the Covid-19 worldwide pandemic, our young people are facing unprecedented challenges and stresses that can have a lasting impact on their overall well-being,” Solano County Superintendent of Schools Lisette Estrella-Henderson said in a statement. “I am inspired by SCOE staff’s commitment, cooperation and collaboration to use technology to problem-solve and place priority on our students.”
Source: Webchats to help Solano teens with Covid-19 stresses
By Maggie Fusek
Solano County youth 14 to 21 years old are invited to participate in an upcoming series of free mental health webchats held through Zoom. Mental Health Mondays Webchats are facilitated by student wellness specialists from Solano County Office of Education’s Student and Program Support Department, giving youth a safe space to ask questions and exchange information with their peers about mental health.
Last month, SCOE’s Youth Development Department hosted the “Coping with COVID” webchat series for youth on a wide range of topics including: mental health, stress and anxiety management, mindfulness, and routine and schedules. The series, particularly Mental Health Mondays, was successful and received positive feedback, and is now extended through June.
Source: Solano Youth Invited To ‘Mental Health Mondays’ Zoom Webchats | Benicia, CA Patch
By Times Herald
The COVID-19 pandemic may have presented health, economic and safety issues but Solano County’s oldest children’s mental health agency is up for the challenge.
During times of high stress, coupled with financial instability and isolation, the incidence of domestic violence and abuse rises steeply, Child Haven officials said in a news release.
As services to at-risk families become even more critical, Child Haven has remained open, providing remote, web-based tele-health services to clients, with only key admin staff in the office.
Source: Solano County’s Child Haven keeps working amid pandemic – Times-Herald
By Todd R. Hansen
A student wellness center opened this week at Golden Hills Community School, the first in a $1.7 million investment to open 25 centers in the school-based Wellness Center Initiative launched by the Solano County Office of Education.
“As educators and community leaders, we know that mental health can create significant barriers to effective learning. School-based wellness centers can create opportunities to destigmatize mental health, foster open dialogue with students around issues like suicide prevention or bullying, and teach coping strategies that build resilience and help students manage stress before negative behaviors or violence occur,” Superintendent of Schools Lisette Estrella-Henderson said in a statement released Friday by her office.
Source: First Solano student wellness center opens; goal is for 25 countywide
By Todd R. Hansen
Education, mental health, bullying and homelessness topped the biggest concerns of Solano County youth, according to survey results presented Tuesday to the Board of Supervisors.
The survey results and other information was provided in a presentation by the Solano Youth Voices, a program under the umbrella of the Children’s Network of Solano County.
Nathen Jordan, 17, one of the council members for Solano Youth Voices, and Alyssum Maguire, the coordinator, made the presentation.
Source: Solano youth list education as top concern; mental health 2nd
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today announced that the California Department of Education (CDE) secured $1 million in grant funding under the federal STOP School Violence Act. The funds will be used to provide violence prevention and mental health training to students and staff in school districts that have been the most affected by violence on their campuses.
The CDE will partner with Sandy Hook Promise, a national nonprofit led by family members who lost loved ones in the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, to implement the Project Cal-STOP training initiative.
“We are pleased to receive this grant and to partner with Sandy Hook Promise on the joint mission to keep students and schools safe,” said Torlakson.“These funds will allow us to provide the training and support to those districts battling high rates of violence and suspensions. Our goal is to stop acts of violence on campuses and allow schools to be what they should be—safe places for students to learn and thrive.”
Source: Violence Prevention and Mental Health Grant – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson urged educators, parents, school board members, community leaders and all residents to voice their support for state legislation that will improve mental health services for students.
Torlakson is putting a major focus on mental health awareness and treatment, suicide prevention, and school safety as the Legislature reconvenes August 6 for the final weeks of the 2017–18 session.
“Students need to have good mental health to succeed in the classroom and in life. Schools can help by creating a caring and supportive environment and by working to help identify mental health problems early so students can receive the treatment they need,” said Torlakson, who started his career as a high school science teacher and served as a track and cross country coach.
Source: Torlakson Urges Support for Mental Health Bills – Year 2018 (CA Dept of Education)
By Richard Bammer
A discussion of 2018-19 budget priorities will be among the more significant items of an otherwise relatively light agenda when Fairfield-Suisun Unified leaders meet tonight in Fairfield.
Michelle Henson, assistant superintendent of business services, will lead the discussion, which will be based on Gov. Jerry Brown’s $190 billion 2018-19 state budget proposal, released in January and due for revision in May.
Her presentation, casting an eye on the impact of the state’s numbers on the district’s, will come two weeks after she led a budget presentation at the trustees’ Jan. 25 meeting.
Specifically, Henson will note that projected average daily attendance (ADA) funding for the coming year will be about $9,450 for each of the district’s estimated 20,550 students, yielding some $194 million in state funding under Brown’s landmark Local Control Funding Formula. Additionally, she will tell the seven-member governing board, one-time discretionary funds from the current year will account for some $6 million in additional funds spent on students.
Source: Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District to discuss 2018-19 budget priorities
By Richard Bammer
Tom Torlakson, the state’s superintendent of public instruction, Tuesday urged Congress to reject President Trump’s federal education budget proposal, which includes cuts that he described as “deep” to teacher training, after school programs, mental health services, advanced coursework, among others.
“I give this budget an ‘F’ grade for failing public school students in California and across the nation,” Torlakson, who leads the country’s largest public school system with more than 6.2 million students, said in a press release. “We need to invest more in our public schools, not slash away at programs that help students succeed.”
A former East Bay high school science teacher and athletics coach, he noted that the proposed federal education budget heads in a completely different direction than the California approach to education funding.
Source: State school leader gives fed ed budget proposal a failing grade
By Ryan McCarthy
Providers and a consumer were honored Wednesday at a Solano County Behavioral Health event to kick off mental health awareness month with its theme of “Break the Stigma.”
Annette Williams of the Matt Garcia Career and College Academy in Fairfield was a Community Hero award winner in the event held at the county offices on Courage Drive in Fairfield.
“It’s just a pleasure to be able to help students,” Williams said.
Source: Three honored during kickoff of ‘Break the Stigma’ mental health event
By Cody Fenwick
Children in foster care in the United States experience serious mental and physical health conditions at a much higher rate than those in the general population, a new study published in the journal Pediatrics found. Anxiety, behavioral problems, depression and attention challenges are all much more prevalent among foster kids, as well as asthma, obesity and hearing and vision impairments.
Kristin Turney, a co-author of the report and associate professor of sociology at the University of California, Irvine, noted that the study is the first to make this kind of comparison.
Source: Foster Kids Face Worse Mental and Physical Health Challenges, Study Finds – Benicia, CA Patch
By David Bulley
When Jimmy, a 6th grader with significant social and emotional disabilities, was sent out of English class every day one week, he devised a plan. On Friday, he smuggled a pair of handcuffs into school, and upon arriving at English class, instead of grabbing his “do now” and sitting down, he ran straight to the teacher’s desk and handcuffed himself to it.
The teacher, a kind and in many ways excellent instructor, was shocked. The teacher and I unlocked Jimmy soon enough, but later, when we had a quiet moment to reflect, I said, “You teach English. Can you see the symbolism here?” Jimmy desperately wanted to stay in class but did not know how. And to compound this tiny tragedy, it seemed obvious he had no one to ask.
Source: Helping Troubled Students, One Relationship at a Time | Edutopia
By Richard Bammer
Gov. Jerry Brown earlier this week signed a law that requires schools that serve students from grades seven to 12 to adopt suicide-prevention policies beginning next year.
The bill, Assembly Bill 2246, by Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell, D-Long Beach, requires the California Department of Education (CDE) to develop and maintain a model suicide-prevention policy.
“With this change, we can better identify students in need, get them help, and keep them safe,” Tom Torlakson, state superintendent of public instruction, said in a press release issued Tuesday. “One of my top priorities is serving the needs of the whole child, including their mental health needs. This bill is a big step forward in our ongoing efforts to help our students.”
Source: Gov. Brown signs student suicide prevention bill
By Julia Steiny
Naturally, Faina Davis, a lawyer and head of Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth (RJOY), would have a happy-ish story about what happens when troubled kids connect with adults who practice Restorative Justice. Far more often, kids misbehave, get punished, misbehave, get punished, in an endlessly destructive cycle. But Restoration works to interrupt this cycle by solving whatever was driving the misbehavior in the first place.
An 11th grader, whom Davis calls Cameron, transferred into a Restorative Oakland high school. He’d already become, as she put it, one of those “scary-dude kids” with saggy pants, a black hoodie and a horrible attitude. Such charmers come to her through the Oakland’s schools, which have become demonstration sites for restorative justice.
On his first day at the new school, Cameron met with the school’s Director. Cameron probably expected, per usual, to get yelled at, berated, and threatened with dire consequences for any more misdeeds. Instead, this Restorative Director put aside the thick folder of records of Cameron’s academic failures, suspensions and arrests. Start fresh. Cameron couldn’t suddenly become an angel. But together he and the Director would deal with the obstacles in the way of building a brighter, healthier path for this angry adolescent.
Source: Chronically Misbehaving Kids Suffer Mental and Social Disease
By Linda Flanagan
By the time he entered second grade, Eric had already witnessed graphic violence and watched as his family fell apart. He’d been moved to a new state and a new home, but he wasn’t thriving, especially in school. Eric’s reading level was measured in single digits — that is, below the 10th percentile for children his age.
“He was so preoccupied by the trauma he’d experienced that it was impairing his learning,” says Steve Lepinski, who followed Eric’s progress.
Lepinski runs the Washburn Center for Children, a mental health provider in Minnesota that handled Eric’s case. After receiving intensive therapy, Eric (not his real name) saw his reading level jump to the 90th percentile for his age group. Now “he’s just doing normal third-grade things,” Lepinski adds.
via How Schools Can Help Nurture Students’ Mental Health | MindShift | KQED News.
By Jane Meredith Adams
Sweeping national reforms in children’s mental health care have yet to materialize in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., school shootings, but a group of high-profile educators and policy analysts in California is mapping a plan to transform student mental health services in the state.
Tens of thousands of students with emotional disorders, including clinical depression, chronic anxiety and post-traumatic stress, sit in California classrooms each year, posing a widespread challenge to teachers’ and administrators’ efforts to improve academic outcomes.
Task force recommends including mental health training in teacher credential | EdSource Today.
By Jane Meredith Adams
President Barack Obama on Monday asked teachers to help identify and seek help for children who are suffering from mental health disorders, saying that it was time to bring “mental illness out of the shadows.”
More than 75 percent of mental illnesses, including depression, panic disorder, schizophrenia and anorexia nervosa, emerge when children are school-aged or young adults, Obama noted. But he said that only about half of children who need mental health treatment receive it. The untreated disorders can lead to poor academic performance, behavioral issues in the classroom, social isolation at school, and in the most extreme cases, suicide and violence.
via President Obama calls on teachers to help identify mental health disorders in students – by Jane Meredith Adams.