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$13.2 million grant to fund wellness centers in Santa Clara County schools

Santa Clara County leaders and community partners Monday announced a $13.2 million grant to improve mental health resources at local schools. 

The Wellness Center Expansion Program seeks to expand wellness centers at schools throughout Santa Clara County. It will fund 28 new wellness centers and upgrade 12 existing centers at 40 middle schools and high schools. 

Valley Health Foundation, a nonprofit, partnered with the County of Santa Clara Behavioral Health Services Department to administer the grant program. The program is part of Santa Clara County’s mission to invest in increased access to mental health resources. It’s a central component of a county initiative — Children’s Roadmap to Recovery. Susan Ellenberg, president of the County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors, is the driving force behind the initiative, which began in April 2023. 

Ellenberg cited climbing levels of depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and other mental illnesses among youth as the motivation behind the initiative. 

“I don’t want children or teenagers to be afraid to ask for help,” Ellenberg said. “I want our youth to know there is nothing wrong with them if they struggle with mental health and that there is support for them if they need it.” 

The program’s wellness centers will offer a safe, inclusive, and warm environment where students can relax and receive mental health services. A clinician will conduct screenings and assessments, provide counseling, and offer referrals. The centers will have books, games, yoga, and music to support students looking to unwind. 

Ellenberg emphasized that mental health resources are a long term investment. “The earlier we can intervene, the more preventative work we can do” Ellenberg said. 

Early intervention, she claims, can reduce the likelihood of significant mental illnesses later in life.

Source: NBC Bay Area

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