LA County Education Bureau: Addressing the Mental Health Crisis

To the Editor: I commend the Times Editorial Committee for raising awareness of a serious problem in education – the mental wellbeing of our children, which was of concern prior to COVID-19.

The pandemic has only added to our urgency. Virtually every student in Los Angeles County and beyond has experienced some level of trauma since March 2020.

These challenges force education leaders to identify student support measures through social workers, school counselors, and trauma support teams supported by professional development to prepare staff to recognize signs of danger.

As a social worker and psychotherapist, I know we need to devote resources to identifying and eliminating stigmatization of trauma and mental health.

The Los Angeles County Office of Education is creating new programs to support student mental health. This week I announced the appointment of a head of health and support services. In addition, the office is expanding its employee counseling education program, which offers advice to school employees.

We have also launched a series of professional development programs that provide educators with the tools to teach and develop social-emotional learning skills. We have partnered with the LA County Department of Public Health on a new program to help schools recover from the pandemic with teacher grants, schools and districts.

Finally, our office is expanding its community school model in partnership with the LA County Department of Mental Health. As your editorial so aptly points out, the wellbeing of our children depends on the support of the entire community.

Debra Duardo, Downey

The author is the superintendent of the Los Angeles County Office of Education.

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