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Student wellness is a top priority for the San Ramon Valley Unified School District. For years, the District has put into place education and prevention programs at all grade levels to assist students’ mental health. The current pandemic due to COVID-19 has highlighted the need for mental health support to students in crisis. Counselors, social workers and school psychologists have worked in collaboration with teachers to jointly support students in need.
Beginning in elementary school, students learn to identify their emotions, ask for help, resolve conflicts and problem solve. Elementary teachers use of variety of curricula, materials and programs to support students’ mental health development: Sanford Harmony, Second Step, Steps to Respect, Character Counts, Diversity and Inclusion, Soul Shoppe, to name a few. Based on need and eligibility, students can receive additional mental health support through the Rainbow Program, SCIP Discovery Center, a social worker or a school psychologist. Students have received virtual counseling during the COVID-19 pandemic from mental health workers.
In October of 2020, SRVUSD provided Risk Assessment Training to all social workers, counselors, SCIP interns and school psychologists in the district. Elementary staff also received an in service on Suicide Prevention in March of 2021. In the past, Mental health awareness trainings in the area of depression and anxiety awareness are also provided at the elementary school level by school psychologists. In the Fall of 2021, selected schools will participate in a pilot program for 5th graders using the “Signs of Suicide” Prevention Program (SOS), a previously adopted curriculum within the district. All of these interventions are in compliance with the newly passed California AB 1767 (K-12 Suicide Prevention training for educational staff and students).
In middle school and high school, based on need and eligibility, students can receive mental health support from social workers, counselors and school psychologists. During the COVID-19 pandemic, students had access to virtual wellness center as well as virtual counseling from mental health providers. Wellness centers are in the process of opening at all 4 comprehensive high schools within the district staffed by district social workers. All students have access to these centers on campus. Students in 7th, 9th and 11th grade receive Suicide Prevention training from counselors in “Signs of Suicide” Prevention Program (SOS). Parents are informed about the topics of depression and suicide being presented and are invited to a parent evening to view the video presentation and participate in a discussion. Peer leadership programs teach selected students skills to identify and help peers who may be at-risk. Some programs teach peer leaders to build connectedness among students and also between students and staff, which improves the school climate (e.g., student-led clubs, Let’s Bring Change 2 Mind, Sources of Strength).
Starting in the 2017-2018 school year, all SRVUSD staff received online training through Keenan Safe Schools on how to identify warning signs and symptoms of depression and suicidal ideation. Key staff and teaching faculty receive additional training in recognizing depressive symptoms; the warning sign, risk factors, and protective factors for suicide SRVUSD school psychologists, counselors, and resource officers meet annually to review protocols, assessment tools, and community resources.
In the fall of 2017, SRVUSD released its “Comprehensive Suicide Prevention Toolkit for Schools.” This Toolkit reinforces the District’s on-going efforts to support student wellness. A special thanks to the many counselors and school psychologists who created the district’s comprehensive toolkit. Without their tireless efforts and many hours of research and editing, this district resource would not have been possible. Beginning in the Fall of 2020, this Comprehensive Toolkit began the process of revision to be in compliance with AB 1767. A big thank you to the wonderful team of school psychologists, counselors, social workers, community providers and administrators who created two virtual staff trainings during the COVID-19 pandemic.