School Mental Health Services: The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) is comprised of 722,000 students, many of whom are at increased risk for exposure to violence and other traumatic events due to increasing community violence and poverty. It is one of only two school districts in the country that has supported a child mental health service unit (since 1933) and district crisis intervention services for traumatized children (since 1984). A staff of 160 psychiatric clinical social workers, clinical psychologists, child psychiatrists, and community workers; 250 District crisis team members; and Early Behavior Intervention Counselors at 175 elementary and middle schools provide a range of professional mental health services for students who evidence social, emotional, behavioral and trauma related problems, which often inhibits their ability to learn. The mental health staff itself is culturally diverse with 45% of the clinicians having bilingual capabilities in Spanish, Portuguese, Korean, Chinese, Mandarin, Cantonese, Armenian, Russian, and American Sign Language.
Student Health and Human Services: The LAUSD Division of Student Health and Human Services provides direct medical, mental health and counseling services to the district's 700,000-plus students. The division includes a workforce of several thousand school health and human service professionals, from nurses and doctors, to social workers and counselors. Besides the provision of direct services, the Student Health and Human Services division coordinates partnerships with city, county and community-based agencies to integrate school-based and community-based efforts for improved child, youth and family outcomes. Examples of this include multiple school-based clinic partnerships; collaboration with hospitals, local coalitions and professional societies to combat childhood obesity, asthma, and dental disease; acting as the community partner for the UCLA/RAND Center for Adolescent Health Promotion, a CDC funded Prevention Research Center; and contracts and agreements with county public health and health programs to provide mental health services, insurance outreach and enrollment, immunizations, and communicable disease control prevention programs on campuses.
The LAUSD will provide an opportunity for scholars to become familiar with school-based programs throughout the District. Current priorities within the division include prevention of obesity and dental disease in underserved communities; evaluating and improving suicide prevention programs; implementing evidence-based substance abuse prevention programs; improving the cultural appropriateness of programs; increasing the number of students and families who are enrolled and retain health insurance coverage; improving educational achievement through health and mental health interventions, including reducing school drop-out. Besides the direct service provision to students and families, the division offers opportunities to develop, assess and analyze national, state and local health policies as they affect the district as well as the students and communities we serve.