Breanna Reeves |
The Riverside County Office of Education was awarded nearly $3 million from Fiscal Year 2022 School-Based Mental Health Services grant funding to increase the number of credentialed mental health providers who will serve Riverside County students.
Findings published from a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) surveillance report of youth behavior found that more than one in three high school students experienced persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness in 2019, a 40% increase since 2009.
The ongoing pandemic has had a severe impact on youth mental health and many health officials have called for the need to address the growing crisis. In 2021, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy issued a public health advisory that highlighted the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on the state of children’s mental health, recognizing trauma due to family deaths from COVID-19, heightened racial violence and financial instability as contributors to children’s poor mental health.
“Mental health services are an educational imperative for student success, and this grant will expand access to school-based services for thousands of students from diverse and economically disadvantaged backgrounds,” said Riverside County Superintendent Dr. Edwin Gomez. “The community looks to our public school system to meet the educational needs of all students, and the increased need for mental health services at local schools and districts will benefit students in the classroom, families in the community and our region as a whole.”
According to a 2019 report released by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), California ranked 48th in the nation when it comes to school counselor access. Nationally, there was one counselor for every 444 students. In California, there is one counselor for every 682 students. The report noted that 95% of California’s students attended schools where counselor caseloads exceeded the American School Counselor Association’s recommended ratio of one counselor per 250 students.
Representative Mark Takano (D-Calif.) voted to appropriate funding for this grant program in the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act and the Fiscal Year 2022 Omnibus Appropriations. The School-Based Mental Health Services grant program provides grants to state educational agencies and local educational agencies to increase the number of credentialed mental health services providers supporting school-based mental health services to students in need.
“As a former educator, I know from my time in the classroom that access to culturally competent mental health services is instrumental to a student’s success,” said Rep. Takano. “I’m thrilled to see this robust funding come to Riverside, equipping our schools with the resources needed to train and retain the mental health professionals that will serve our students.”