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School-Based Mental Health Staff Expands for 2022–23

Countywide Plan Details Vision for Supporting Student Mental Health

Group of adults seated around instructor

SCOE school-based mental health professionals recently met to review program successes and discuss new opportunities.

The School-Based Mental Health and Wellness program is more than doubling the number of mental health professionals serving schools in Sacramento County this school year. The ultimate goal for the Sacramento County Office of Education (SCOE) program, created in partnership with the Sacramento County Department of Health Services, is for every public school in Sacramento County to have access to a mental health clinician.

Clinicians, who are SCOE employees, served more than 20 school sites last year. For 2022–23, the number of sites will double to 40. In addition, several new positions are being added to the program. Family Navigators will help families enroll in applicable services. Peer Specialists will work as student mentors. New internship positions are also being created, expected to be filled by graduate students who are working toward their degree in related fields. In all, the expanded staff will serve schools across 11 local school districts, SCOE schools, and one charter school.

SCOE originally announced a phased rollout of the program at 11 sites in 2020. Funding comes from Medi-Cal, California’s public health insurance program for low-income individuals, including families with children.

New Countywide Plan Released

As the expanded mental health staff gears up for the coming school year, a new Sacramento County Student Mental Health and Wellness Plan was released at a meeting last week. Nearly a decade after the original plan was developed, efforts to address student mental health and wellness faced new challenges brought about by COVID-19. The pandemic has magnified factors that negatively affect student mental health while simultaneously stressing those supporting students and families.

Hundreds of community members contributed ideas and feedback through listening sessions, interviews, group discussions, community surveys, and more. Based on the feedback, SCOE and the Sacramento County Department of Health Services partnered to develop a new plan, which includes an overall vision, updated priorities, and new strategies. The Glen Price Group, a company that provides strategic planning and project management assistance to public and nonprofit organizations, helped to facilitate the process.

The 2022 plan establishes a shared vision and values, articulating community-generated priorities and strategies for addressing student mental health and wellness needs.