Student Mental Health Week (May 4-8, 2020)

We hope that you and your families are healthy and well in this unprecedented time.

May is Mental Health Month and it comes at a time when a global pandemic is causing unprecedented stress.

This year, the California Association of School Counselors are hosting California's first Student Mental Health Week with the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California. Part of the activities include five virtual daily seminars (11:00 AM) and a Thursday (3:00 PM) afternoon Happy Hour. This week's activities draw attention to the very important issues related to PreK-12th grade student mental health. Please join us for one or all of the five web-based trainings and for Thursday's Happy Hour! 

As the week progresses, we ask that you hashtag “#CA4studentwellness” with all events and activities, so that we are able to celebrate your creativity and implementation statewide.


Mental Wellness: Redefining our health from a wellness perspective and reducing Stigma!
Join us for an informative and engaging presentation focused on Student Mental Wellness. Often, students who are experiencing mental health difficulties feel shame and fear, which may prevent them from seeking support. Presenters will discuss the concept of mental wellness and mental health stigma. They will provide current and relevant data regarding children's and youth's mental health, as well as ideas on how school counselors can support mental health in schools during this time of school closures. Participants will walk away with resources to support their students, families, and communities. 
Presenters include: Ashley Kruger (CASC President & E Hale Curran Elementary School Counselor) and Teresse Lewis (Murrieta Elementary School Counselor) 

Register here for May 4th  


Understanding Trauma & the Grief Process through COVID-19 

This session will cover the basics of trauma informed care and grief and trauma from the lens of what we as school counselors/educators are experiencing during this time of COVID-19 and school closures. The presenters will address how, through our own grieving process, we can support a Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS) Tier 1 process of supporting school staff, teachers, students and families now and preparation for the return to a school setting next school year. 

Panelists include: Dr. Da'Mond T Holt (Trauma Expert) Sarah Slemmons (CASC 2020 School Counselor of the Year, Culver City Middle School), Jeanine Lizotte (Culver City Middle School) 

Register here for May 5th

Wednesday, May 6

Top 5 Mental Health Issues that our Youth Experience (Anxiety, Depression, ADHD, Eating Disorders, and Substance Use) 

This session provides an enriching and engaging panel discussion exploring the top five mental health issues that our youth experience today (anxiety, depression, ADHD, eating disorders, and substance abuse) moderated by Josh Godinez (President-Elect, CASC & Centennial High School, Corona). 

Panelists include: Dr. Loren Dittmar (Simi Valley High School), Dr. Caroline Lopez (Cal State Long Beach), Mrs. Jenna Mendez (Foster Youth Counselor, Corona Norco Unified School District), and Dr. Aubrey Uresti (University of California, Berkeley, Extension).

Register here for May 6th

Thursday, May 7

Suicide Awareness and Prevention 
Suicide remains the second leading cause of death among youth today. Especially during this pandemic, we need to remain vigilant in providing supportive services for our students' social and emotional needs. Attendees who are willing to dig deep, and possibly get a bit emotional, will learn about the school counselor's leading role in implementing suicide prevention programs and crisis response services, by exploring current research and best practices. Dr. Loren Dittmar describes his training through song, personal experience and his deep knowledge in understanding the role school counselors play in suicide prevention and school mental health practices.

Presenter: Dr. Loren Dittmar, High School Counselor SVUSD, Adjunct Professor at CLU, CASC Director of Emerging Leaders

Register here for May 7th

Happy Hour at 3:00 PM

Please join Sarah Slemmons (2020 California School Counselor of the Year & Middle School Counselor) and Ashley Kruger (CASC President & Elementary School Counselor) for happy hour! Grab your favorite drink and come meet other school counselors from around California. Since this week is focused on Mental Wellness, Sarah and Ashley will be facilitating a conversation about "your best self-care ideas!" We look forward to great discussions, laughter and networking. Hope to see you there.

Register here for Happy Hour 

Friday, May 8

It's all about the students
This session uplifts the perspective of students through testimonies, survey responses, and contest entries. ACLU in partnership with the CASC recently launched a contest to provide students with a platform to express their feelings about mental health services in school and the impact of the pandemic. Students were encouraged to submit essays, poetry, visual arts, songs, videos, and other forms of expression. In this session, students from the Youth Liberty Squad (ACLU) will share the perspective of fellow students across California and the reasons why school-based mental health is a civil right. The contest submissions will be shared with the State Superintendent and Governor to further advocate for school-based mental health.  

Presenters include: Dr. Amir Whitaker is a Policy Attorney with the American Civil Liberty Union (ACLU) and Leia Eckstein represents high school counselors on the CASC Board and is a school counselor working in the San Francisco Unified School District.

Register here for May 8th