San Diego police see increase in mental health calls to schools

San Diego Police removed 30 students last school year for 72 hours of mental health holds, which was more than double the number from the 2019/2020 school year.

SAN DIEGO – A mental health crisis is raging among youth across the country, and that includes San Diego.

San Diego police are responding to more mental health calls at San Diego area schools than in previous years, according to data obtained by CBS 8.

The numbers show that police removed 16 students at local elementary, middle and high schools in San Diego and placed them on mental health hold in 2019-2020. The SDPD responded to 10 calls over the next year, despite the remoteness of the local schools. Last year, it almost doubled from two years earlier and 30 students were taken in the midst of a mental health crisis.

The increase in mental health in local schools is similar to that seen across the state.

In August, Governor Gavin Newsom pledged $4.7 billion in state funding to “re-imagine mental health and substance use services” in hopes of addressing mental health issues caused by the pandemic. reads a press release.

Also in August, the state superintendent, Tony Thurmond, announced that his office secured a grant worth $20,000 for 10,000 school counselors to help children struggling with anxiety, depression or self-esteem issues.

Thurmond’s August 4 statement read, “This is an important moment.” We recognize that it will take time to build many of these wraparound services so that our students can recover, recover and thrive, and so it is important to start this work right away.

But the benefits of that program, as well as others, won’t be visible for some time, prompting local mental health advocates and non-profits to commit more resources to helping youth in need.

Walter Phillips is the CEO of San Diego Youth Services, an organization that has provided an array of resources for children and youth in San Diego for more than 50 years.

Phillips tells CBS 8 that the numbers barely scratch the surface of the larger issues. Given that there has been an increase in calls to the SDPD, it is important to focus on all children who are struggling with mental health issues, not just those who had to be physically removed from schools.

Phillips said, “Alone at San Diego Youth Services, we are just one nonprofit in the community working in schools and around child mental health. We have helped nearly 11,000 youth through our prevention intervention and treatment programs. And served the families.”

Data obtained by CBS 8 also shows that calls are spread evenly among age groups, with high schoolers reporting only one more mental health call than elementary school students, and children in middle schools There are two more for

CBS 8 reached out to State Superintendent Thurmond’s office for an update on the grant of new school counselors, but did not receive a response.

A spokesperson for the California Department of Education said:

“Recruiting mental health care providers to serve in our schools is one of the top priorities of State Superintendent Tony Thurmond and the California Department of Education (CDE). The creation of the Thurmond-sponsored bill, SB 1229, includes $184 million in the budget. Expanding an existing $350 million residency program for school counselors and for teacher and school counselor residency programs.

Additionally, Thurmond and CDE secured budget funding through the Golden State Teacher Grant Program, which provides grants of up to $20,000 to individuals to serve four years at a priority school in California within eight years of completing a preparatory program provides.

“This is a big step forward,” the spokesperson said. “The mental health needs of students are ubiquitous—with COVID still among us, the threat of natural disasters due to climate change, and two years of health, social, economic and political challenges that have affected people of every race, gender, It has affected Californians. income level, and zip code – it often hits hardest those who have traditionally been marginalized and underserved.”

The spokesperson added, “Student mental health will continue to be a priority as we build systems and infrastructure for today’s and future needs. As our work continues, we will partner with the California Student Support Commission and the California Commission. ” Teacher credential to launch an online application and website and assist with outreach.”

San Diego Unified said the district is working to address the increase in mental health calls to schools, while acknowledging that the district as well as others around the country are working diligently to do the same. are doing.

“While it is difficult to pinpoint the exact reasons for the excess people seeking mental health services across the country and within San Diego Unified, the shortage of psychologists and providers including licensed mental health practitioners and school counselors only exacerbated the issue. Like many other school districts, San Diego Unified has seen an increase in calls regarding mental health services in recent years.”

To show how bad the problem is, a spokeswoman for the district provided the number of calls from the same time this year compared to previous years.

From July 1, 2022, to November 20, the district received 55 calls for mental health issues in schools. This compares to 46 during the same time last year and only seven in the 2020/2021 school year.

“Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, San Diego Unified has focused on mental health awareness and care for the district,” a district spokesperson said. “Among other measures, we have partnered with several community-based providers to increase access to onsite mental health services for students on all of our campuses, regardless of family income or insurance status. continues to partner with the county to offer behavioral health resources, including drug and alcohol treatment programs, individual counseling services and family support.”

watch related: California ‘master plan for kids’ invests $4.7 billion in mental health

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