LOS ANGELES, CA – Today, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a motion authored by Chair Hilda L. Solis, Supervisor to the First District, and co-authored by Supervisor Kathryn Barger on assessing the mental health resources and support available for students.
“Each year, the need for effective student and youth mental health support continues to grow, with one in six youth reporting experiencing a mental health disorder each year. Unfortunately, half have reported not receiving any kind of treatment in recent history. School-based mental health services delivered by trained mental health professionals on site are key to addressing the rising incidence of mental health disorders amongst our youth,” shared Chair Solis. “With the influx of funding and resources into the County’s schools to address mental health, it is critical that our departments be positioned to help provide technical assistance and support. By working together, we can make a significant difference in the lives of children to keep them safe and healthy.”
A study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in November of 2020 found that compared to the prior year, emergency department mental health-related visits for children aged 5-11 increased by 24%, while visits for children aged 12-17 years old increased by 31%. The CDC partly attributed this increase to the fact that many children receive mental health services through clinical and community agencies, such as schools. With schools necessarily closed for in-person instruction early in the pandemic with cases rising and no vaccines or treatment available, children went without the means to access the appropriate mental health resources needed to respond to this unprecedented adverse childhood experience.
Through the American Rescue Plan, over $122 billion was appropriated for K-12 schools to safely re-open and to address the many impacts of COVID-19 on education. This includes strategies to meet the social, emotional, and mental health needs of students, as well as to hire additional personnel, such as nurses or mental health professionals, to keep schools safe and healthy. Additionally, the State of California’s 2021-2022 budget package provided funding for numerous programs in K-12 education, including $25 million in funding to develop mental health and wellness instructional resources and trainings for educators, students, and caregivers to address the pandemic’s impact on mental health.
“The mental health needs of our youth must be a priority,” shared Supervisor Barger. “Every available mental health support resource must be harnessed to help young people in our schools and their families get the support they need. It’s only through partnerships with teachers, school administrators and campus resources that we can effectively bridge the service gap.”
The motion approved today instructs the County’s Department of Mental Health, working with the Office of Education, to design a questionnaire/survey to be distributed to the 80 school districts in Los Angeles County on mental health needs and report back to the Board in 30 days with the final questionnaire, with a corresponding plan to distribute and engage the County school districts for responses. The motion also requests a report back within 120 days with the data and analysis from the questionnaire, and next steps to address the needs identified by the information collected, including engaging with community partners and the County’s Mental Health Commission on opportunities to support and address the needs identified.
To view the full motion, click here.