SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) — Students living in Santa Clara County are getting much needed mental health assistance as the county office of education was recently awarded six million dollars to increase support services on school campuses.
The Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission approved the Mental Health Student Service Act Grant which will provide multifaceted mental and behavioral health services by developing wellness centers at schools throughout the district.
“Increasing access to school based health and wellness addresses the evident need for mental health services and removes stigma and promotes wellness of our youth,” said Santa Clara County Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Mary Ann Dewan.
In Santa Clara County, students receive far less mental health support than the rest of the state with only two percent of all of its students receiving mental health support services.
Throughout the state approximately 700,000 students have serious behavioral health disorders — only 120,00 students or 17 percent receive therapy as part of their individualized education plan.
“This will provide counseling, support services for the families that have children that have behavioral problems,” said California State Senator for District 15, Jim Beall.
Beall is a long-time mental health advocate and has been at the forefront of securing $50 million with an additional $15 million in on-going funding for schools throughout the state to provide mental health services under the Mental Health Student Services Act.
Beall says mental health for children is more important now than ever before with additional stresses caused by pandemic.
“I can’t even understand how much stress they’re going to be under its going to be really rough for them,” said Beal.
“To me this program in the schools will mean that the kids will have available immediate services that they can go to for help when them when they have problems.”
Efforts to receive funding was led by Beall and eventually led to the adoption of two bills, SB 12 and SB 582 in the 2019-20 state budget.
Additionally, SB 12 allocates $15 million to establish drop-in youth centers throughout the state in an effort to provide alternative options for youth ages 12-25 that are struggling with mental health issues.
The Santa Clara County Office of Education will also use the funds to increase the number of mental health professionals at school campuses and provide relevant professional learning to school personnel.
“Having a wellness focus and access to counselors and other school based campus support, contributes to the healthy development of young people. Increasing the investment, which is necessary for a school campus to focus on wellness, also demonstrates the importance of the long term impact of multifaceted academic, behavior, and mental health programs and services,” said Dr. Dewan.