SAN JOSE, CA (September 15, 2021) – With an influx of COVID-19–related funding targeted towards children’s mental health, a new report from Silicon Valley Leadership Group’s Education Team examines the steps Bay Area schools have taken to date to address the underlying stressors and concerns facing local youth.
The report was compiled from interviews with local school representatives from June 2021 to August 2021. The report contains feedback from districts across the Bay Area that serve nearly 100,000 students every day. This included multiple Bay Area school districts as well as charter school networks. The report details the best practices being used in the field and how these practices are being implemented at the school level.
“We have not seen this level of investment in public education in a generation,” said Sara Garcia, Director of Education & Workforce Development at SVLG, “and have never seen as great an investment in students’ mental health as the Children and Youth Behavioral Health Initiative, and with that comes great responsibility. We hope this report serves as a toolkit for best practices in supporting students’ mental health by showcasing the amazing work local schools are doing in that area.”
Governor Newsom’s 2021-2022 budget includes a $4 billion investment in the Children and Youth Behavioral Health Initiative, which will provide screenings, counseling, and therapy for young people up to age 25. The new funding, from the federal and state level, moves the state’s per-student funding from 48th in the nation to the top 10 in national rankings. The study’s lead author notes that money will lead to more student mental health staffing, but many schools are waiting to see where needs will be this school year before hiring new staff.
“Overall, the report shows schools are attempting to shift focus from triaging mental health support to creating preventative youth mental health practices,” said Will Aubin, the report’s lead researcher. “And this shift would not be possible without this increase in funding.” Aubin pointed to the report showing school districts investing more money in three key areas:
1. 3rd party organizations to connect families to specialized care
2. Proactive investments in social-emotional curriculum
3. More teacher training to support student mental health needs
The new funding comes in response to Covid’s increased mental health challenges for children and teens. According to CDC records, mental health-related emergency room visits for those ages 12-17 increased by 31% between April and October of 2020 compared with the same period in 2019. Related to that impact, Dr. Steven Adelsheim, Stanford University Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, pointed to the urgent need to better understand school mental health strategies at this time.
“We must do everything we can right now to support the mental health and wellbeing of our students and families as they return to the classroom,” said Dr. Adelsheim.
SVLG’s Sara Garcia said that the report is an important examination of practices in children’s mental health in our schools now. But she also emphasized that an examination of what’s working was critical as new funding gives districts a chance to make new impacts with those affected.
“This historical investment demands significant responsibility. It is incumbent upon our schools and service providers to be good stewards of public dollars intended to support the needs of the most vulnerable in our community,” said Garcia.
To read the full report, please click HERE.
Silicon Valley Leadership group is California’s most dynamic business association. Building on four decades of success in championing the solutions that make Silicon Valley the best place to work and live, we promote solutions focused on fostering business competitiveness and the region’s innovation ecosystem. Collectively, SVLG members provide nearly one of every three private sector jobs in Silicon Valley and contribute more than $3 trillion to the worldwide economy each year.