On Jan. 29, officials from the County of Los Angeles, including the Board of Supervisors, the departments of Public Health and Mental Health, and the Los Angeles Unified School District announced the opening of a Wellbeing Center to address the social, emotional and mental health needs of young people at Alexander Hamilton High School.
This will be one of 37 centers operating at high schools throughout L.A. County.
“The opening of this Wellbeing Center represents our vision of providing compassionate services to young people in our community in a way that has never been done before,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, 2nd District. “We will provide supportive service for the trauma they may face in their neighborhoods after it occurs and equip them with the tools they need to help prevent it in the first place. These Wellbeing Centers represent a paradigm shift in how we address violence in our communities, as well as an avenue to connect students experiencing housing insecurity to the resources they need to stay on an academic path that prepares them to be our future leaders.”
Research suggests that many youths enrolled in L.A. County schools may lack preventative care at an age when risk is highest for uptake of smoking or vaping, for unsafe sex and other for other unhealthy behaviors, including use of alcohol and other substances. The centers will offer services to educate students for lifelong protective practices and promote social and emotional well-being, youth leadership and sexual health. The spaces will be youth-friendly and will provide students with a safe, welcoming place where they will find caring adults, supportive peers and integrated services.
Each center is staffed by two master’s-level trained health educators who will facilitate classes, educational groups and activities aimed at equipping teens with information about substance use prevention, behavioral health and sexual health, as well as the skills they need to have healthy relationships, protect their health and plan for the future. Through in-center and in-classroom activities, the health educators deliver an age-appropriate, evidence-informed curriculum that complies with California Healthy Youth Act requirements with added emphasis on behavioral health, substance use, and social and emotional well-being.
Public Health will provide limited sexual health services, as well as substance-use education and referrals. Mental Health will offer mental health support groups around a range of teen concerns, including stress, anxiety and depression. They will also offer linkages to community mental health providers for students with more intensive mental health needs.
For information, visit publichealth.lacounty.gov.
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