DJUSD shares current mental health resources with the Social Services Commission

By Neshmia Alam

DAVIS, CA – On Monday, the Davis Joint Unified School District (DJUSD) had the opportunity to present the current state of its mental health support systems to the Davis Social Services Commission (SSC).

According to Cara Messmore, Director of Student Support Services at DJUSD, “The intent of this presentation is to give [the SSC] an overview of the different ways we provide mental health support in DJUSD.

Annette Preciado, Prevention and Crisis Manager, and Camica Edwards, Homeless and Foster Care Liaison, both joined Messmore’s presentation.

Messmore began by providing an overview of the various mental health support services that DJUSD currently offers and explained that they operate using a “tiered support system” that serves as a “framework for all interventions that we provide”.

She clarified that the system operates at three levels, “[Tier] one for all, [Tier] two for some, and [Tier] three for a few.

Messmore also shared that there are school counselors at each DJUSD site whose purpose is to “provide individual counselling, they provide small groups, [and] they certainly provide crisis intervention.

Regarding various mental support services, Messmore emphasized that “collaboration and consultation are essential between the classroom and the office,” but “there is no replacement for trauma-informed teachers.” .

To stay informed about the mental health status of the school district, DJUSD participates in certain surveys. According to Messmore, these include the “annual report Youth Truth Survey” as good as “California Healthy Kids Survey.”

Subsequently, Annette Preciado presented DJUSD’s own socio-emotional support form, which is a form that allows students to be accompanied quickly and efficiently. She explained that this form is a tool that “a parent or even a staff member can use to refer [or] request mental health services for a student.

Preciado also shared information about Comfort Treatments with CCS. Care Solace is a separate resource available on the DJUSD website and, according to Preciado, “helps families connect to mental health services and providers.” She went on to say that Care Solace “works too [families] throughout the process” of seeking and using mental health resources. This walkthrough serves to alleviate the stress that families may face when seeking emotional and mental support and also serves as a pathway by which “a counselor can make a referral directly”.

Next on the list of resources presented to CCN was CommuniCare at Davies. Through the program, there are “on-site clinicians available to provide individual therapy to students.” Although there are only three clinicians providing these services through Davis CommuniCare since this is the first year the program has been implemented at Davis, according to Preciado, “the goal is to continue to grow.”

She also mentioned the Auburn Davis Center for Dialectical Behavior Therapy. The Auburn Center and DJUSD have a “long-standing relationship” and, through their Compassion Project, have created a “series of workshops for parents focused on teen mental health.”

Next, Camica Edwards discussed the health and well-being of teens who are homeless or in foster care. She shared that for students who are in the home system, “it’s hard to understand how little control you have.”

Her work includes working with approximately 30 families in the district regarding access to education. As to why she is working to improve access to education in the district, she emphasized that this work is important because, “when parents can’t cope, caregivers can’t face, [and] the guardians can’t cope, it really affects the children.

To put a student’s issues into perspective, Edwards asked CSC to “imagine each student coming in with their story, their own story” and take that into account when allocating resources to DJUSD.

She explained that “district resources and time are limited” and therefore asked CSC to “either bring the services to them or just make them easier to access.” Due to lack of resources, Edwards and the rest of DJUSD’s mental health and support staff explain that there is often a lack of access to services for students.

SSC Vice President Rachael Fulp-Cooke began the questions and comments by sharing her own experiences with the school district’s mental health system, saying that when contacted by the district about his own daughter, “the fluidity of [mental health services] is simply amazing.

Commissioner Perez echoed that sentiment and shared her own experiences with her three children. She told Messmore, Preciado and Edwards that they are “just amazing” and that in CSC, “you have parents here, you have fans.” She urged them to ask for the resources they needed, saying “tell us what you need”.

Commissioner Vaitla also asked DJUSD to seek resources and asked “if there are any unique priority requests from the city government.”

Edwards replied that there were currently no “actionable items”, but said mental health support services were “still short-staffed”.

Messmore added that “we could always use more funding.”

The meeting ended with the commissioners seemingly ready to support DJUSD’s mental health staff. Fulp-Cooke concluded the discussion by promising that CSC will “reconnect with some ideas.”

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