Home California Bill Would Tackle Student Mental Health Through School-Linked Services

Bill Would Tackle Student Mental Health Through School-Linked Services

by ECT

Senator Dave Cortese (D-Silicon Valley) has introduced SB 1184 to ensure California students get the behavioral support they need.

Senator Cortese envisioned and pioneered the “School-Linked Services” program in Santa Clara County. School-Linked Services connects students and families to county mental health counseling, case management, and public health services on district and school site campuses and has grown to a $40 million-a-year program serving about 200 schools across 15 school districts in Santa Clara County.

Senator Cortese believes that the successful School-Linked Services program should guide the framework of school-based mental health services statewide, to increase the number of credentialed pupil support services personnel like counselors, social workers, nurses, psychologists etc. at our school sites.

The School-Linked Services FY 20 end-of the year survey reported the following[1]:

  • Most of the 321 families that completed an end-of-year Family Survey reported that the SLS services they received helped them learn more about the services and supports available in their community (75.4%), as well as their health and wellbeing (73.2%).
  • Most families that completed the Family Survey reported that the SLS services they received improved their ability to find resources for their child (67.0%), helped them advocate for their child (65.4%), and increased their child’s academic success (76.3%).
  • The majority (83.3%) of the 12 staff responding to the SLS Superintendent and Supervisor Survey “agree” or “strongly agree” that the SLS model has improved school-family-community partnership. SLS Administrators feel the program’s most significant benefits involve connecting diverse community partners in lasting relationships. They also report value in the program’s ability to streamline referral processes, which in turn saves families and staff time and resources.

“We must expand our statewide strategy to provide school-based mental health services to students and ensure that services provided among various entities are sustainable, equitable, and better coordinated to fill gaps in services that exist for students and support the overall health and well-being of all children,” says Senator Cortese. “I think all parties can agree that coordination of these services can be better aligned to serve our students and families, and SB 1184 will do that through the School-Linked Services framework we championed here in Santa Clara County.”

SB 1184 would define in California law a “School-Lined Services” coordinator as those individuals or entities, who serve as licensed educational psychologist, located on a school campus or under contract by a county behavioral health provider, and ensure that these “School-Lined Services” can better refer both students and families to mental health treatment and care.

“Schools must serve to develop children holistically,” Cortese added. “SB 1184 will allow for quicker referrals to services so that we can better meet the needs of our students.”

A recent report published by the Santa Clara County Office of Education, titled “The Efficacy of a School-Based Approach to Student Wellness,” demonstrated students are 10 to 21 times more likely to receive behavioral health services when they are provided on a school campus.

Last year, Senator Cortese moved forward a budget request to expand the Mental Health Student Services Act grant program for mental health partnerships between counties and schools to provide school-based interventions for students with identified need; funding for the program was expanded by $205,000,000.

Senator Cortese serves on the state’s Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission.

“We thank Senator Cortese for his continued leadership in championing supportive schools,” says Rovina Nimbalkar, Executive Director of NAMI Santa Clara County. “SB 1184 will better connect children and youth to the behavioral health care they need to learn and grow.”

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