Educator wellbeing provides the foundation for the overall wellness of educators, students, and the school community. In this brief, we describe how educator wellbeing is impacted by school climate and culture, educators’ own social and emotional competencies and self-care strategies, and individual histories of trauma and crisis. The brief focuses on a wide range of strategies for educators and school leaders to promote and support educator wellbeing, provides examples of successful implementation of educator wellbeing practices in California school districts, and includes resources to bolster supports for educators.
Statewide Principals Survey Summary Report 2021-22 School Year
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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.
Project Cal-Well: A 5-Year Journey
The California Department of Education (CDE) is committed to increasing mental health services to support the socioemotional well-being of all students. In 2014, CDE was awarded a five-year Federal grant to implement Project Cal-Well statewide and in partnership with three local education agencies (LEAs).
The Cal-Well mission is to increase awareness of and improve mental health and wellness of California’s students, and provide training for school personnel to detect and respond to mental health issues.
This brief describes the Project Cal-Well model and provides highlights of successes and lessons learned over five years of implementation.
Three Component Model to Support Students’ Mental Health: A Guide for California Schools
Project Cal-Well is a five-year initiative intended to increase awareness of and improve mental health and wellness of California students in kindergarten through grade 12. Under the leadership of the California Department of Education (CDE), Project Cal-Well implements programs statewide and in partnership with participating districts and county offices of education using a three component model that focuses on student, school, and community needs and assets. The components of the model are:
- Improve school climate for schoolwide prevention
- Increase access to school-based behavioral health services
- Enhance community collaborations
This guide describes the three component model and provides schools and districts with resources and tips to support youth mental health.
School Mental Health Referral Pathways (SMHRP) Toolkit
The School Mental Health Referral Pathways (SMHRP) Toolkit was funded by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to help state and local education agencies and their partners develop effective systems to refer youth to mental health services providers and related supports.
The SMHRP Toolkit provides practical tools and strategies to improve coordination and collaboration both within schools and between schools and other youth-serving agencies. It supports the cultivation of systems that improve the well-being of young people by providing targeted mental health supports at the earliest sign that a need is present. In particular, the SMHRP Toolkit delves deeply into the topic of referral pathways, which are defined as the series of actions or steps taken after identifying a student with a potential mental health issue.
Referral pathways vary from community to community based on cultural and linguistic considerations and the resources available, including the public and private organizations providing services to school-aged youth. School and community-based mental health providers must understand their local community in order to ensure the seamless provision of mental health supports to youth and their families. While mental health referral pathways may involve different partners depending on the community, all effective referral pathways share similar characteristics, which include:
- Defining roles and responsibilities of all partners in a system.
- Clearly articulating procedures for managing referrals within and between partners.
- Sharing information across partners in an efficient manner.
- Monitoring the effectiveness of evidence-based interventions provided by all partners within a system.
- Ensuring intervention decisions are made collaboratively with an emphasis on what is best for young people and their families.
The SMHRP Toolkit provides guidance to support the critical, challenging work of building effective mental health referral pathways in diverse communities throughout the United States.
A Guide to Increase Mental Health Services for Students
This guide from Project Cal-Well provides responses to frequently asked questions about providing effective mental health services to students in California. It responds to the following questions with practical guidance and resources for further exploration:
- Is there a need to provide mental health services at schools?
- What personnel groups can provide mental health services to students?
- What is the best model of school-based mental health services?
- Do I need to provide clinical supervision for mental health services providers?
- What additional resources are required to support mental health services providers?
- Is there funding available for mental health services at school?
- How can the effectiveness of mental health services at my school be assessed?
- How do I integrate mental health services within a Multi-Tiered System of Supports framework?
- Where can I find more information about mental health services for students?