Alison Yin/EdSource
Gov. Newsom is proposing more than $1 billion in extra funding for student mental health services.

After a year marked by anxiety and isolation for many young people, Gov. Gavin Newsom proposed a windfall for youth mental health services in California on Friday.

In his updates to his proposed 2021-22 budget, Newsom increased funding for school and community counseling programs that will make therapy and other mental health services available to every Californian under age 26, he said.

“The (budget revision) proposes a statewide and comprehensive transformation of the behavioral health system for all Californians age 25 and younger — changing the life trajectory of children so that they can grow up to be healthier, both physically and mentally,” according to Newsom’s budget summary.

Among other things, the funding includes $1 billion for a Children and Youth Behavioral Health Initiative that would help schools pair with community health organizations to provide mental health services. The aim is to offer one-on-one counseling, group counseling and other services to students through the Medi-Cal system. The goal of the initiative, which some districts have already started, is to streamline mental health services and simplify the funding.

The initiative would also train more mental health workers, create an online portal for young people to find help, and expand telehealth — counseling sessions conducted over video.

In Newsom’s original budget proposal released in January, funding for the initiative was set at $400 million.

Alex Briscoe, principal of California Children’s Trust, which advocates for the physical and emotional health of children in California, said that if it’s invested well — with a strong focus on equity — the money could help bridge the gap between education, health and social justice.

“To realize the promise of this unprecedented investment, we must both acknowledge the impact of racism and poverty on the social and emotional health of children, and center our schools as essential places of healing,” Briscoe said. “We can’t do this hard work without new investment and this unprecedented commitment is both welcome and timely.”

Amy Cranston, executive director of the Social Emotional Learning Alliance, said the initiative should be considered as part of broader state efforts to improve lives of children and families in California. Although they’re necessary, mental health programs alone aren’t going to solve complex challenges.

“We need to look at the bigger picture and take better care of families and communities, especially those that have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic,” she said.

Newsom also proposed $30 million for the Mental Health Student Services Act, a grant program for school districts, charter schools, county offices of education and other education agencies to pair up with county behavioral health departments to expand mental health services to students.

The budget proposal also includes funding for youth mental health services in other areas, including a $3 billion initiative to fund community schools. Community schools are campuses that, in addition to academics, provide social services and physical and mental health services to students and their families. The services are typically provided by other agencies.

An additional $1.1 billion grant program would help schools hire more staff, including counselors, nurses, psychologists, social workers and other staff who work directly with students to address their mental health needs.

“Children learn and thrive when they feel that they have many adults who care about them, when they are secure, and when their basic needs are met consistently and in a regular, structured manner,” according to the budget summary.

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  1. Gee Cee 4 weeks ago4 weeks ago

    It’s great that Sacramento wants to help our young people out with mental health. .. but we should really be taking a look at practices and policies in place in our ED code that need to be revisited before a major shift in focus like this. It can cause a school system that is already broken and not equitable for anyone to continue to spiral out of control.

  2. LCSW Mental Health Therapy California 2 months ago2 months ago

    Thanks for sharing such a great article. This is the best step toward the betterment of the student’s mental health because according to a recent survey there is an increase in the case of mental health issues and most of them are young people and students suffering from stress, depression, anxiety. I think this is the best step taken by the authority this really helps a lot of students in overcoming their mental issues.

  3. Ron Jones 4 months ago4 months ago

    Does anyone in Sacramento know the history of education and that proper "physical education" was used historically to create not only mental stability but to also create the best learners in the classroom? All of these mental health services and programs will ultimately fail without proper connection to the body and movement. This age-old concept of "sound mind in sound body" goes all the way back to ancient Greece, yet we ignore it. The cognitive … Read More

    Does anyone in Sacramento know the history of education and that proper “physical education” was used historically to create not only mental stability but to also create the best learners in the classroom? All of these mental health services and programs will ultimately fail without proper connection to the body and movement.

    This age-old concept of “sound mind in sound body” goes all the way back to ancient Greece, yet we ignore it. The cognitive development of the brain through movement and certain types of quality movement involving cross-lateral patterns is quite established in neuroscience. If we are not listening to science or history then who are we listening to?