County Superintendent of Schools Applauds Sonoma County's Mental Health Commitment to Youth
The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors’ vote on Tuesday, April 18, to approve $250,500 in additional mental health funding for students delivers on a promise made to the voters who passed Measure O in 2020, said Sonoma County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Amie Carter.
The Sonoma County Office of Education (SCOE) worked with an ad hoc committee established by the county to develop the approved plan, which will fund four new county positions to support Sonoma County’s schools. The positions will be paid for by funding from Measure O, which provides about $25 million per year to fund mental health and homelessness efforts at the county level.
“The ballot argument supporting Measure O specifically highlighted its opportunity to help Sonoma County’s children, traumatized by multiple natural disasters since 2017,” Carter said. She noted the ballot statement was co-signed by her predecessor, retired County Superintendent Dr. Steven Herrington.
“The Sonoma County Office of Education is grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with the county on this important plan to expand and deepen the work around addressing youth mental health,” Carter said.
The need to devote more resources to our schools is borne out in recent YouthTruth survey data from 146 elementary, middle, and high schools in Sonoma County.
The region’s high school and middle school students scored in the bottom half of California students surveyed when asked whether they agreed that their school has programs or services that can help them when they are feeling upset, stressed, or having problems. In addition, they were in the bottom 25% of students surveyed statewide when asked whether they knew of ways to make themselves feel better or cope with stress or problems.
SCOE has gradually expanded its Behavioral Health team, started in 2019, to better help Sonoma County’s 40 independent school districts address youth mental health needs that have grown since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Their work includes coordinating crisis response, raising awareness among school staff and families of youth mental health challenges, and helping build capacity at school sites to address students’ needs before they become crises. SCOE staff are currently engaged with supporting the creation of student wellness centers at campuses around Sonoma County.