December 21, 2021
State Superintendent Tony Thurmond Launches Plan to Recruit 10,000 Mental Health Clinicians to Support California Students
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond today announced a plan to recruit 10,000 new clinicians to provide for the mental health needs of California students. The plan centers on offering scholarships to encourage candidates to pursue careers in the mental health profession and serve in high-need schools and communities.
Superintendent Thurmond will sponsor legislation that calls on the California Legislature and the Governor to invest up to $25,000 per applicant in scholarships for future clinicians. Even before the pandemic, California was experiencing a shortage of mental health counselors to serve California students, especially in rural areas that often have barriers to health care access. The need for these clinicians has grown with the rise in depression among children in the U.S. in the pandemic period. Additionally, student mental health problems and conditions, including depression, anxiety, and general distress, are increasing as natural disasters such as wildfires and floods affect more California communities and schools each year.
“This proposal creates a needed career pathway to provide California students with the counselors they need to overcome the trauma of the pandemic,” said Christine Stoner-Mertz, CEO of the California Alliance of Child and Family Services (California Alliance), a coalition of nearly 160 community-based organizations that provide school-based mental health services. California Alliance helped to develop the concept and will co-sponsor the legislation.
The scholarship and recruitment plan will be coupled with efforts to reduce delays in the time it takes for California mental health clinicians to become licensed. Superintendent Thurmond intends to work to align efforts with those already approved by the Governor and the Legislature to expand mental health supports for California students, including a $3 billion Community Schools Strategy to provide health and mental health wraparound supports and a $4.3 billion strategy to provide mental health supports to youth from birth to age twenty-five.U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy recently issued an advisory calling for swift action to respond to a growing mental health crisis among youth that has worsened due to stressors related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Superintendent Thurmond, who worked in social work and school-based mental health, has vowed to help California lead the way in providing for mental health needs in our schools. “There is no more important effort that we can support at this time to help California kids. Let us come together to help our students heal, recover, and thrive,” said Thurmond.
# # # #
Tony Thurmond —
State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5602, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100