During a year marked by change and uncertainty, Mater Dei High School and CHOC are partnering to bring enhanced wellness and mental health services to students. As part of the partnership, a CHOC licensed psychologist, post-doctoral fellow and doctoral student will collaborate with school administrators and staff in designing a robust wellness program, in addition to finding innovative ways to provide mental health services to teens.
“Mater Dei High School is very excited and pleased to have this partnership with CHOC. We look forward to collaborating with CHOC in providing new and different types of educational experiences for both faculty and students in these COVID times and throughout the coming years,” says Mater Dei High School Principal Frances Clare.
The initial year of the partnership will focus on providing training to staff to boost their understanding of students’ mental health needs, including helping them successfully transition back to campus after lock-down orders in March. The team will also identify wellness opportunities and develop programs, such as potential classes on mindfulness and stress reduction. Also being explored are services for parents to aid in their knowledge of common issues confronting kids. Additionally, CHOC’s pediatric psychology team will be readily available to assist with any mental health crisis that occurs on the high school campus.
According to CHOC’s mental health experts, the unique combination of the global health crisis, social isolation and economic downturn is resulting in increases in mental health concerns in children and adolescents. The Teen Line, a peer-to-peer hotline located in Los Angeles, has reported an increase in calls from teens with suicidal ideation, family issues, anxiety and loneliness. Local area mental health agencies are reporting increases in requests for services.
“We are proud to partner with Mater Dei to provide increased mental health support for adolescents, and we commend them for acknowledging that their students’ mental health is as important as their physical health. We look forward to developing a comprehensive approach to wellness and mental health services in the school setting, and hope this can serve as a scalable model for others,” explains Dr. Heather Huszti, CHOC’s chief psychologist.