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Los Angeles County Allocates Nearly $10 Million For School-Based Mental Health Services (04-09-19)

Contact: Shannon Haber, (213) 241-6766

Los Angeles County Allocates Nearly $10 Million
For School-Based Mental Health Services

LOS ANGELES - The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously today to allocate nearly $10 million to increase mental health services and hire more social workers on Los Angeles Unified campuses.

Funded by the Department of Mental Health, the Los Angeles County Community School Initiative will allow Los Angeles Unified to expand school-based prevention and early intervention services, peer support, crisis response and mental health outreach and referrals for students and families in need.

“This is critical work,” said Superintendent Austin Beutner. “We appreciate the leadership of Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, Supervisor Kathryn Barger and all of the supervisors in stepping forward and providing the resources. You are one of our most important partners because these are all of our children.”

Superintendent Beutner noted the growing mental health crisis among adolescents and teens and the need to create a network of services for struggling children.

“This support will allow us to move from intervention to prevention,” he said. “We will work with our youngest children to build this foundation. When schools, families and communities work together to support children, they do better.”

The funding will allow Los Angeles Unified to identify pilot sites where mental health services are expanded and staff trained on how to better support students dealing with trauma and other emotional challenges. The county Mental Health Department will support the effort by hiring 45 new employees and developing regional mental health teams to help create a mental health first-aid program.

“Many of our students need help to deal successfully with family circumstances, traumatic experiences, crises and other problems including depression and thoughts about suicide,” said Pia Escudero, executive director of the Division of Student Health and Human Services. “With the proper attention and support, they can bounce back from these challenges, become resilient, learn problem-solving skills and succeed in school.”

School Board members said the mental health services will help provide students with the resources they need to succeed.

“Thank you, Board of Supervisors and our partners at the County of Los Angeles,” said Board President Mónica García. “Your support today matters to our learners and families! We are committed to increasing access to the care that our students need for their physical, mental and spiritual well-being.”  

“We are grateful for the county supervisors and all our partners as we work to provide our students with the mental health support they need,” said Board Vice President Nick Melvoin. “In a district with more than 80 percent of its students living in poverty, it’s time that all levels of government show a similar commitment to reinvesting in our public schools to help our kids succeed.”  

“Investing in the mental wellness of our students demonstrates a commitment to supporting all aspects of their academic achievement,” said Board Member Dr. George J. McKenna III.

“I am very excited about the timing of these additional school-based mental health services that are so critical for student success in school and life,” said Board Member Scott M. Schmerelson. “In Board District 3, our secondary students are organizing to help identify and assist fellow students who may be experiencing emotional trauma.  I hope to establish more connections between peer group volunteers and highly trained mental health professionals.”

“Our schools and our staff work incredibly hard to address the needs of the whole child, but we cannot do it alone,” said Board Member Kelly Gonez. “That’s why it’s so important to work collaboratively across silos to expand access to and improve mental health supports. We appreciate the continued partnership with the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to bring additional mental health services to our students in Los Angeles Unified.”

“The funds provided for student mental health are much needed but still a drop in the bucket for what we need to fully address the mental health needs of our students who have and continue to be subjected to traumatic events on a daily basis,” said Board Member Dr. Richard Vladovic. “We need the state to add to this pool of resources, as well, to fully help those in need.”