May 20, 2022
State Superintendent Thurmond, U.S. Secretary of Education Cardona, and U.S. Senator Padilla Highlight Efforts to Address Mental Health of K–12 Students
SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond today joined a virtual conversation with U.S. Secretary of Education Dr. Miguel Cardona and U.S. Senator Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) during Mental Health Awareness Month on the mental health impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on California’s K–12 students. State Superintendent Thurmond, Senator Padilla, and Secretary Cardona were joined by statewide and local leaders to highlight resources from the American Rescue Plan available for schools, students, and families as they recover.
“Given the struggles students have faced during the pandemic, addressing their social–emotional needs is job number one,” said Superintendent Thurmond. “As a former social worker, student mental health has always been a top priority to me, and we will continue to work with state and national partners to secure and connect California students to resources and supports, including increasing the number of mental health clinicians.”
In December, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy declared a “youth mental health crisis” due to the pandemic that has significantly impacted students’ educational performance. Recognizing that students need help to heal from the trauma of the pandemic, recover academically, and thrive as they prepare for the future, Superintendent Thurmond sponsored SB 1229, a bill that would help recruit 10,000 mental health clinicians for California schools.
“We know there’s so much more work to do to ensure that students recover and thrive,” said Secretary Cardona during the webinar. “To build on our progress, we need to work together. Along with educators and administrators, it’s parents, family, and community members who nurture our students every day.”
“One of the most important issues facing not just California, but America today, is the mental health needs of our students,” said Senator Padilla. “As a society we’ve been fighting for many years now to end the stigma that’s around mental health. This was the case long before the COVID-19 pandemic, but certainly the pandemic has put a spotlight on the needs, demands for services, and the importance of this conversation.”
Superintendent Thurmond and the California Department of Education (CDE) are also working with state partners like the Department of Health Care Services, as well as private partners, to provide mental health programs and tools to educators in real time. Superintendent Thurmond is supporting additional legislation and prioritizing programs and strategies to support the social and emotional needs of students as a key to helping them thrive emotionally and academically.
Superintendent Thurmond’s effort to recruit 10,000 clinicians is part of a larger plan to address workforce challenges in the education sector. It is also a centerpiece of his effort to help students heal from the trauma of the pandemic, recover academically, and thrive as they prepare for the future. Superintendent Thurmond has simultaneously appointed a workgroup on addressing education sector workforce shortages, which is working to address compensation, training, and recruitment strategies to help offset education staffing shortages in a state that serves 6 million students.
# # # #
Tony Thurmond —
State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5602, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100