LVJUSD Hosts Mental Health Roundtable to Highlight District’s Wellness Plan
October 16, 2023 - Livermore, CA - The Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District (LVJUSD) aptly chose October 10, 2023, World Mental Health Day, to host a mental health roundtable which highlighted the District’s milestones and future plans for addressing student mental health. Representatives from the offices of Congressman Eric Swalwell, State Senator Steve Glazer, and State Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan, along with other state and local leaders, joined together at Livermore High School’s Wellness Center to learn more about LVJUSD’s growing district wellness plan made possible in large part by federal and state grants and community support.
Led by LVJUSD’s Wellness Coordinator, Liisa Hanninen-Danner, PhD, the roundtable featured counselors from elementary, middle, and high school; community mental health partners; and current and former peer coaches who collectively spoke to the mental health education, training, supports, and partnerships the District has cultivated since 2018. “Even prior to the pandemic, our needs assessments and data were telling us that there was an increasing need for mental health services. Our District has been strategic in obtaining funding that has supported our efforts to address the needs of our students related to mental health, and will continue its pursuit for ongoing growth,” expressed Hanninen-Danner.
LVJUSD has received a nearly $6M grant from the Federal Department of Education; $760,000 from the Student Behavioral Health Incentive Program from the California Department of Health Care Services; funding from the Mental Health Supplemental Services Administration; and support from local organizations including the Rotary Club of Livermore and the Real Estate Alliance of Livermore (REAL). These funds have been used for mental health first aid training for staff, students, and community members; the development of campus wellness centers; the establishment of a Mental Health Advisory Committee; the creation of a district mental health website; and most recently, the current development and implementation of a district wide elementary counseling program which will include a full-time counselor at all elementary schools by 2027. “In order to support this major expansion to our mental health infrastructure, we have created a behavioral health pipeline that includes counseling interns who are supporting our growing program as they complete their credentialing programs. We look forward to the possibility of them one day transitioning to full-time counselors,” remarked Marina Bunce, LVJUSD’s first elementary school counselor.
The roundtable included a focus on the significant role that community partnerships have played in LVJUSD’s ability to connect students to mental health services. Through a partnership with Alameda County’s Center for Healthy Schools and Communities, local mental health agencies including Horizons Family Counseling, HUME Counseling, and La Familia have provided counseling services to students on school campuses. Recent data has shown that students are six times more likely to engage in counseling services if they are provided at school as opposed to being provided at outside agencies. “Providing no-cost, school-based services removes barriers that could otherwise get in the way of accessing support, including financial hardships or transportation difficulties,” noted Lindsay Sauter, LMFT, Horizons Family Counseling therapist. Horizons provided mental health services to over 800 LVJUSD students last school year alone.
“I’m really proud of the work that’s been done in our District over the past several years related to mental health. We know that students achieve at higher levels academically when their mental health and wellness challenges are supported and addressed. We have been focused on investing our mental health funding in ways that will continue to expand mental health resources with even greater impact to our students. As far as we’ve come, we know there is still more work to do. We are grateful for the continued investments at the federal and state levels and the support from our community,” shared Chris Van Schaack, LVJUSD Superintendent of Schools.
To learn more about LVJUSD’s mental health resources, visit www.livermoreschools.org/
Photos Courtesy of LVJUSD
Photo 1: Ron Payne from Congressman Eric Swalwell’s office was amongst the attendees and addressed the roundtable panel about LVJUSD’s process for evaluating the efficacy of the various components of the various components of the wellness program.
Photo 2: Attendees and panelists sat in a variety of flexible seating options during the presentation- including benches, stools, and bean bag chairs- which helped to illustrate the multi-functionality of the wellness center space.
Photo 3: Current and former peer coaches, also known as Culture Keepers, from Livermore High spoke about their role in the creation and sustainability of the LHS Wellness Center in its continuous evolution to best support the needs of students.
Photo 4: Matthew Boer from State Senator Steve Glazer’s office spoke with LHS counselor and wellness center coordinator, Zachary Radecke, about the success of the program.