Kern County school districts offering mental health resources

Student Mental Health
Posted at 9:45 AM, Jul 31, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-31 12:45:38-04

We know many parents and grandparents are agonizing over the upcoming school year. We want to help you and your family make the best decision about going safely back to school' all week, we'll be sharing different ideas to help you decide what's best for your family.

23ABC's Daniela Garrido spoke with the Bakersfield City School District and the Kern High School District on their plans for mental health services.

As students will begin learning virtually they will also have access to mental health resources virtually. Our local school districts say they have plans in place to make sure every student, staff, and parent is heard.

"We've never experienced anything like this before," said Yessica Avancena of Aspire Counseling. "It's not that it can't be done were just going to learn as we go"
For some students, not returning to in-person classes may be distracting to not only their academics but also to their mental health.

Aspire Counseling said they've seen a spike in 12 to 18-year-olds seeking behavioral therapy in past three months.

"That is where we see our increase we're almost at 100 percent capacity right now we have to open more slots because we've seen such an increase."

Both the Kern High School District and the Bakersfield City School District say they've put mental health resources at the forefront of distance learning plans.

"Ever since the initial closure when we had to close schools we had a team of mental health professionals in the district to provide resources to parents and students and staff regarding mental health resources," explained Tim Fulenwider, BCSD executive director of instructional support.

Both KHSD and BCSD plan to offer free, virtual mental health counseling services to its students, staff, and parents.

"Those include telehealth services. We also have been training all our psychologists and behavioral intervention specialists on how to provide specific support to parents and students at home by phone or Zoom or correspondence such as email and things like that," said Fulenwider.

BCSD plans to hold virtual town halls for parents to ask questions regarding how to respond and address students' mental and emotional health.

"We plan on creating a series of training for parents on things like anxiety or how to work with our students' behaviors in the home."

New to BCSD this semester will be a cyberbullying app called Sprigeo which has been successful in the kern high school district.

"We also have a reporting app that will be launched that will allow parents and kids to report concerns of bullying, cyberbullying, and suicidal ideation or someone they know that might want to hurt themselves and that is a 24/7 365 days a year app," said Fulenwider.