MPUSD middle school students to receive mental health support through community partnership

February 22, 2022
Middle school student works with manipulatives to help with mental health awareness during class
Middle school student works with manipulatives to help with mental health awareness during class (2022)
MPUSD strives to provide equitable access to mental social-emotional support at all of our schools. To further those efforts, a three-year program at our middle schools is beginning because of this community partnership. Those schools include Walter Colton Middle School, Los Arboles Middle School, and Seaside Middle School.
Middle school is a pivotal moment during childhood development and students can face new challenges around self-awareness, emotional resilience, and social awareness.
"We find among students an increase in self-harm, cutting, suicide ideation, depression, anorexia, and social isolation, at a scale we have not seen before. This raises a huge concern for us as educators,” said MPUSD Superintendent PK Diffenbaugh.
The program will initially focus on working with eighth grade students as they prepare to transition to high school.

“All the way through 12th grade, kids are developing their psychological immunity by dealing with uncomfortable emotions, having new experiences with people, building meaningful relationships, mastering a challenge,” said Dr. Susan Swick, executive director of Ohana. “It’s all pretty messy, fraught with tears and falls and scuffed-up knees, like learning to ride a bike. But at the end, they learn they can master these challenges, that they can address and resolve issues. Our goal is to help kids develop skills and thrive, to help them understand that difficulty is part of growth and joy, and to help their parents recognize this, as well. Any time we can interact directly with kids to work on skill building, we’re excited to do it.

Through grant-based funding, Montage Health's child and adolescent mental health initiative called Ohana will provide a licensed child therapist to begin working with students at all three schools. Pebble Beach Company Foundation awarded an initial grant of $150,000 to Montage Health Foundation (MHF). MHF then matched the grant for a total of $300,000.
“This is exactly the type of impactful community partnership we want to help build,” said Kevin Causey, vice president and chief development officer of Montage Health Foundation. “We all share the goal of improving mental wellness for young people in our community, and by partnering with mission-driven, local organizations like the Pebble Beach Company Foundation, Ohana, and MPUSD, we can make a more profound and long-lasting impact for our community.”
To read more about the program, read coverage from Montage Health:
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