State Superintendent Tony Thurmond Calls on Counseling Groups to Strengthen Mental Health Supports for Students

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond on Wednesday called on counseling groups across California to work together in a coordinated effort to expand services that can close gaps in mental health supports for students experiencing increased levels of trauma exacerbated by the pandemic.

During his weekly virtual media check-in, Thurmond called attention to emotional strains caused by the pandemic: Students are missing important, caring connections with their friends and teachers since school campus closures, and many are living in isolation and experiencing increased feelings of anxiety and depression. Youth across California are struggling to process their own grief and anger over issues of racial injustice while also under the strain of household circumstances such as food insecurity.

In the meantime, there are thousands of students across the state who have not checked in with their teachers since school campuses closed three months ago, Thurmond noted. And the California Department of Education (CDE) anticipates that the number of youths identifying as homeless could increase as the impacts of the pandemic continue.

Counseling and mental health groups that want to help are asked to email mentalhealth@cde.ca.gov.

“For months, students have experienced intense stress under the biggest challenges they may experience in a lifetime. Just as we are thinking about what academics look like for students in the weeks and months ahead, we must make sure that we prioritize the mental and emotional health of students who will likely be entering a very different school environment this fall,” said Thurmond. “I call on all of our leaders in the field of counseling, mental health, and social-emotional learning to join us in the effort to close gaps in these supports.”

To begin laying the groundwork for this effort, the State Superintendent has convened leaders from the California Association of School Counselors, the California Association of School Psychologists, and the California Alliance of Child and Family Services to begin sharing resources and ideas for creating a framework and securing resources for students in need.

Additionally, the CDE has numerous resources for educators, families, and students, including resources for students in crisis, students experiencing homelessness, and foster youth. CDE’s guidance for the safe reopening of schools also addresses ways to support the mental health and well-being of all.

An archived broadcast of the full media check-in can be viewed on the CDE’s Facebook page.

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The California Department of Education is a state agency led by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond. For more information, please visit the California Department of Education’s website. You may also follow Superintendent Thurmond on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

Monica Vargas

Monica is an Information Officer for the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES). She has been involved in the Aliso Canyon Gas Leak, Valley Fire, Butte Fire, historic drought, Oroville Dam Emergency Spillway Incident, 2017 winter storms, North Bay Fires, Camp Fire, Ridgecrest Earthquake and EMAC PIO support to 2020 Puerto Rico earthquake. She previously served Cal OES as an analyst in international affairs, technology operations and executive staff support.

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