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La Cañada Unified School District’s mental health initiatives bearing fruit

A serious teenage girl gestures as she sits on a couch in her school counselor's office and talks to her unrecognizable counselor.  The counselor takes notes on a clipboard.

It was two years ago when the La Cañada Unified School District (LCUSD) announced a request for proposals (RFP) to provide school-based mental health programs. This eight-page document clearly detailed requirements for potential service providers of the said services, as well as the main purpose behind the call for proposals.

Fast forward to the present time and we are now seeing the fruits of this endeavor toward providing improved counseling services to the student body of La Cañada. Read on and find out how a series of great ideas have blossomed into the wonderful projects geared toward mental health, now up and running in the area.

How it began

LCUSD prides itself on its long tradition of academic excellence and student diversity. However, with a population of 2,150 students in Grades 7-12 living in an increasingly stressful world, the school district has also recognized the rising number of cases related to mental health issues among the studentry.

Facing this troubling issue, representatives from LCUSD member-schools came together to discuss possible solutions. They came up with the idea of school-based counseling, utilizing the services of recognized professionals in the industry of mental health.

To further assure that they get the right people for the job, they made public their RFP.

Well-being amid academic stress

Finding providers of professional mental health services with the capacity to serve La Cañada students under their wing was the main thrust behind LCUSD’s call for proposals. Among these organizations who heeded the call was SAGE. The organization now provides counseling services and consultation at La Cañada High School.

To also provide students and their families from the community with a venue to address their mental health concerns, LCUSD – through La Cañada High School – unveiled its Student Wellness Center. This is a facility that offers a safe and calm space for students. It has different services, including crisis-support, self-care break, growth/interest groups and many more. Facilitator, Rachel Zooi, explained that the project was two years in the making.

The idea for the Center was to create a very accessible and comfortable space for students to deal with any issues they might be encountering. Prior to this, some students shared that they would just break down in the middle of class, unable to find a private space for solitude.

Standing up for mental health

Community effort is the core behind the acquisition of SAGE’s services and the completion of the Student Wellness Center. Aside from the school district, a host of other organizations also contributed. These include the Spartan Booster Club, the La Cañada Flintridge Education Foundation, and the La Cañada PTSA.

In the rest of LA, more individuals are standing up for mental health. In fact, La Cañada’s very own senator, Anthony Portantino, is pushing for two measures, one of which involves allowing students to excuse themselves from classes if beset by mental or behavioral issues.

For a state constantly criticized for having a “struggling” and “broken” mental healthcare system in place, developments in La Cañada are definitely a step in the right direction.

Are you looking to settle your family in La Cañada Flintridge? I’d be happy to walk you through the real estate options here, as well as the schools in the area. Shoot me a message at kathy(at)imuragent(dotted)com or give me a call via 818.949.5205!

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