Youth’s behavioral health can directly affect their ability to learn and succeed in school and beyond, yet most youth with behavioral health concerns do not receive necessary care. Schools are increasingly being called upon to address students’ behavioral health needs. This brief describes the behavioral health needs of California students and describes resources for California schools and districts to address these needs. It is based on findings from a statewide principals survey and the 2016-17 California Healthy Kids Survey to inform the California Department of Education’s Project Cal-Well Mental Health Program.
Statewide Principals Survey Summary Report 2021-22 School Year
View the infographic.
Through Project Cal-Well, the California Department of Education and its partner local education agencies implemented a variety of programs to increase awareness of students’ mental health needs and access to mental health supports.
This 2022 report summarizes findings from a statewide survey of principals conducted by the University of California, San Francisco to assess their perceptions of the availability of existing mental health services, barriers to service provision, and staff professional development needs related to student mental health in California schools. The 1,347 respondents represent 95% of California counties, 54% of California school districts, and 13% of California public schools. Although the convenience sample may represent principals with a stronger interest in mental health concerns and services, the findings hold important relevance for understanding principals’ perspectives on students’ mental health needs, as well as the landscape of mental health service provision in California schools.
California Student Mental Health Report Card
Mental health can directly affect a student’s ability to learn and succeed in school and beyond. Data from the 2017-19 Biennial Statewide California Healthy Kids Survey of secondary students show that respondents have significant unmet needs that could benefit from intervention and supports.
School-based services that support students’ mental health are best delivered using a Multi-Tiered System of Support, examining data on a population level to help to identify students’ needs within each tier. A Multi-Tiered System of Support includes:
- Universal supports for all students to increase mental health awareness and improve school climate
- Targeted supports to support students at risk of developing mental health conditions
- Intensive supports or referrals to individualized services for students with significant needs
This brief examines findings from the statewide survey and explains how data on school climate, mental health, and other significant needs can inform a Multi-Tiered System of Support.
A Climate for Academic Success: How School Climate Distinguishes Schools That Are Beating the Achievement Odds (Report Summary)
A growing body of research suggests that school climate may be an important variable in explaining why some schools are more successful than others. The study featured in this report contributes to this research by exploring the climate of a handful of secondary schools that have had extraordinary success compared to that of other schools, including those that consistently underperform.
School success is often defined in absolute terms, such as average standardized test scores; however, such criteria are known to be strongly correlated with the socioeconomic characteristics of a school’s student body. The fact that a largely affluent student body is linked to school success offers little useful direction for those trying to improve achievement in struggling schools with low-income student populations.
To address this limitation, this study’s design and methodology take student characteristics into account: a successful school is defined as one whose test scores are better than would be predicted based on its student characteristics. Using this definition, the study investigates how two factors—school climate and school personnel resources—differed among three groups of California secondary schools.
In addition to the Report Summary, a Full Report and an updated list of California Beating-The-Odds Schools are also available.