MVLA to implement new wellness services for the 2020–2021 school year


Natalie Wei

The district will be expanding its mental health services as the school year begins in a remote setting,

The Mountain View–Los Altos School District will partner with new mental health services and hire additional therapists as the district enters the fall semester in a fully remote setting. This includes two Stanford psychiatrists as well as partnering with Uplift Family Services and continuing its relationship with the Community Health Awareness Council (CHAC). 

Additionally, in light of distance learning, the district will be implementing new virtual referral and crisis response systems. Through the new partnerships and staff members, the district hopes to build a larger infrastructure for student support. 

Students will still have access to school therapists during distance learning, however, meetings will be hosted over Zoom rather than in person. 

In place of the black referral boxes which had previously been available on campus, students can fill out an online referral form if they or a friend are struggling with mental health issues, giving the therapist the name and the circumstances of the student. Depending on the student’s needs, a virtual meeting can be set up right away or sometime in the future. The form will be available next week.

“The teachers are aware of the referral process,” MVLA Wellness Coordinator William Blair said. “They’re aware of Child Protective Service reporting and they’re aware that mental health challenges are on the rise, they know what to look for and then reach out. Their next step is to refer to the mental health team.”

If students need to work with therapists for an extended period of time, they will be referred to one of the two partnering mental health providers, Uplift Family Service or CHAC. 

Uplift Family Services is a non-profit organization that helps minors in crisis throughout California. Their services allow families to recover from traumas, such as abuse and severe neglect. The MVLA district is partnering with the Uplift Family Services to support students through mental health crises. 

Based in Mountain View, CHAC is a mental health provider that partners with schools to offer therapists, working with LAHS since 1973.  

CHAC normally pauses services during the summer but decided to stay open this year in order to be more accessible to the community. Services were provided at a highly reduced rate or free of charge, helping close to 200 students get ready to go back to school online this year. 

In addition to counseling, MVLA students and staff will be trained in Social and Emotional Learning (SEL). 

SEL focuses on five values: (1) self awareness — understanding one’s own emotions and values; (2) self management — building skills to regulate one’s emotions and behaviors; (3) social awareness — developing the ability to understand and empathize with those from different backgrounds; (4) relationship skills — building skills to maintain healthy relationships; and (5) responsible decision making — learning how to make constructive choices about personal behavior. 

“It’s about understanding deficit thinking versus optimistic thinking,” MVLA Distance Learning Administrator Teri Faught said. “It’s going from: ‘I’m going to fail this test. I’m so stressed out. I didn’t understand everything,’ and changing that to: ‘You know, there are elements I really understood in this.’”

The district will be implementing SEL into the wellness program by teaching both teachers and students how to look for the signs that they or others around them might be struggling. Teachers will also be informed about the mental health challenges that distance learning provides, and taught to reach out to their students and use the referral system. It is currently unclear how exactly SEL will be implemented alongside the standard curriculum. 

Student leadership classes — ASB and SCL — are planning to host virtual student bonding events over Zoom. More information about these events can be found on the ASB and SCL instagram page.