Dear County and District Superintendents, Charter School Administrators, and Middle and High School Principals:
Angst: Building Resilience Statewide Initiative
With generous funding from the Department of Health Care Services’ (DHCS) CalHOPE program and Blue Shield of California’s BlueSky Initiative, the California Department of Education (CDE) is pleased to announce Angst: Building Resilience, an exciting new resource for all public middle and high schools in the state to address the increasing mental health needs of our students.
According to Mental Health America’s (MHA) 2020 State of Mental Health in America report (https://mhanational.org/issues/state-mental-health-america), which compiled data from over 1.5 million responses to MHA screening from January to September 2020, “Young people are struggling most with their mental health. The proportion of youth ages 11–17 who accessed screening was 9 percent higher than the average in 2019. Not only are the number of youths searching for help with their mental health increasing, but throughout the COVID-19 pandemic youth ages 11–17 have been more likely than any other age group to score for moderate to severe symptoms of anxiety and depression.”
Mental health issues among children and youth, particularly anxiety, have been magnified by the pandemic and other conditions we continue to navigate, such as wildfires, environmental changes, political divides, racism, and other inequalities. Addressing the mental well-being of our children and youth has never been more critical.
Providing resources and supports to local educational agencies that will help students process the turmoil of our current conditions is a priority for the CDE. I have been working to expand school-based health services and also recently authored mental health legislation that has resulted in new resources for schools to use in expanding mental health staff and offerings.
The CDE has partnered with DHCS’ CalHOPE (https://www.calhope.org/), Blue Shield of California’s BlueSky Initiative (https://bluesky.blueshieldca.com/), iNDIEFLIX Education (https://www.indieflix.com/education), the Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission (https://mhsoac.ca.gov/), Wellness Together (https://www.wellnesstogether.org/), BeingWellCA (https://beingwellca.org/), and Architects of Hope (https://architectsofhope.us/) to offer the Angst: Building Resilience program to all public middle and high schools and charter schools at no cost.
The Angst: Building Resilience program highlights the prevalence of anxiety among children and youth, directly addressing its causes, and provides solutions for a hopeful future. The Angst: Building Resilience program removes the stigma and opens up the conversation around anxiety, helping people understand and manage their symptoms and recognize when to reach out for help. Most importantly, it shows people they are not alone and that anxiety is treatable.
Angst: Building Resilience will be available to schools starting October 11, 2021, through June 30, 2022. Screening of the film is done in community, either virtually or in-person, and through public school districts. School districts must register to gain access to the film and the curriculum for their schools. This statewide initiative is made possible with funding from DHCS’ CalHOPE Crisis Counseling Program and Blue Shield of California’s BlueSky Initiative. The CalHOPE Crisis Counseling Program is made possible through a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
Although individual screening is not available at this time, Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) KVIE will host the Angst PBS KVIE Kick-Off Event, which will consist of a live panel discussion on Tuesday, October 19,2021, at 6 p.m. and Angst film screening on Wednesday, October 20, 2021, at 7 p.m.
Tune into PBS KVIE (https://www.kvie.org/) to watch the live panel discussion followed the next day by an airing of the Angst film. The film will be shown four additional times during that week. Anyone within the state can access the KVIE broadcast by going on the KVIE streaming platform (https://www.kvie.org/live/) during the times it airs.
This partnership is aligned with my priorities of working with external partners to increase the resources, capacity, and efficiencies within CDE and to increase student mental health and wellness supports. I encourage all district superintendents who oversee middle and high schools to register their districts and host screenings for their school communities. To register your school district, please visit the Angst: Building Resilience California Statewide Initiative web page at https://www.indieflix.com/california.
If you have any questions regarding this subject, please contact Karin Gornick, Executive Producer, iNDIEFLIX, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Monica Nepomuceno, Education Programs Consultant in the CDE School Health and Safety Office, by email at email@example.com.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction