Board signs bills allowing students to access mental health education and support in schools

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SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) – The COVID-19 pandemic has created mental health challenges in people who had never faced them before as children.

The state said one in three high school students feel sad or hopeless almost every day, and UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital said it has seen the number of child suicide attempts double.

Governor Gavin Newsom on Friday signed two new Senate bills aimed at helping students in need.

RELATED: Here’s a Look at Some Bills Governor Newsom May Pass in California

The confinements, the loss of social interaction and the fear of the unknown, the effects of what we all had to live in 2020 still impact us mentally on a daily basis. This is especially true for children.

“None of our kids are immune to this and as a parent it’s scary,” said elementary school parent Monica Gonzalez.

The state recognized the need and a Senate bill was drafted.

State Senator Anthony Portantino drafted the bill. He remains a mental health advocate after losing his brother to suicide.

In a statement, Senator Portantino said: “I am very grateful to the governor for signing laws SB 14 and 224 and for recognizing the urgency of implementing policies that give our children the help that they need. California is in the midst of youthful behavior. health crisis exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. While the bills do not go as far as they should, this is an important step forward. We need to move these essential policies forward and end the stigma surrounding the discussion of mental health. Mental health education and training is one of the best ways to increase awareness and empower students to seek help. “

RELATED: Mental Health Burden of COVID Pandemic Heaviest Among Young Adults

Senate Bills 14 and 224 are a way to destigmatize mental health and help struggling students.

“There has been a lot of trauma and it is important that we recognize that and this bill goes a long way to accept it, recognize it and help them get the right treatment,” said Dr Michael Enenbach, director San Francisco Bay Area Child Mind Institute clinic. .

The bill calls for mental health days to be counted as sick days and makes mental health education a mandatory part of the curriculum by 2024.

Mental health professionals see it as a major victory.

“This will allow these kids to be successful in recognizing the symptoms, getting the right treatment, and then paying their kids for that,” Dr Enenbach said. “I hope that in the future it will be much better than 30 years ago.”

RELATED: Experts Say Loneliness and Anxiety Problems Will Be Common for Students Returning to School

San Jose Unified School Board chairman Brian Wheatley said this fills a major need at the school.

While he can’t go into too many details yet on what the programs will offer, he is very excited about the grant opportunities that will help train and fill so many mental health vacancies in schools.

“I am delighted that Sacramento is recognized that some of this money will go to training people to join the profession, because it is so important,” said Wheatley.

School will always be a place of learning and parents say these lessons will have a major impact.

RELATED: Bay Area Schools Offering Free, 24/7 Distance Tutoring For Students

“Life is going to continue to unfold and so it is important that children get these resources, services and knowledge early on,” Gonzalez said. “It’s just as important as math and reading.”

“It’s like hundreds of years of the same routine, the same schedule and the same process,” said Tanvi Agarwal, an elementary school parent. “Nobody thinks that way, so it’s a good start.”

This can be seen as a start, but a step in the right direction.

TAKE ACTION: Get Help for Mental Health Problems

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