In 2010, former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed funding for mental health services for children in special education. As a result of this drastic change, school districts now have the direct responsibility for providing these related services in accordance with applicable laws.
This transformation was originally seen as a crisis. A wave of panic flowed through the state. It was a huge change of mindset for teachers, administrators, and parents. School district personnel at both the site or district level were not prepared for or were knowledgeable about educationally related mental health (ERMHS) issues that affected our students.
The reality is that most school personnel have minimal experience and training in dealing with students who have existing mental health needs and in detecting the signs of potential symptoms often not knowing the signs of such. Previously, school districts would refer students to other agencies for assessments and services. Additionally, teachers also don't have the tools or comfort level to have meaningful discussions with parents either via the Individualized Education Program team meeting or other format.
This shift is now being seen as an opportunity.
School districts currently have local control in the performance of mental health assessments, identification, and development of programs that support the needs of all students within the educational environment. These services can benefit not only those in special education but all students.
Although some districts are still referring to outside agencies, school districts can train their own experts to provide individualized resources for those students who require specialized intervention.
This change in service model has moved education from a perceived crisis to a worthy opportunity.
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