Rise in youth suicide needs joint effort from educators, health providers

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In summary

More school-based health centers are needed for California students and communities under stress from the COVID-19 pandemic.

By Tracy Mendez, Special to CalMatters

Tracy Mendez is the executive director of California School-Based Health Alliance, [email protected]

Youth in California are struggling with trauma, anxiety and isolation brought about by distance learning, the COVID-19 pandemic and widespread economic distress falling most heavily on vulnerable and disenfranchised communities. Both educators and health care providers see a crisis, but often feel helpless to address it. 

Emergency rooms and crisis hotlines reported an uptick in youth suicide ideation and attempts in the fall, and many of the stressors leading to this increase have continued into 2021. The California Mental Health Services Oversight & Accountability Commission released findings in October spotlighting the urgent need for statewide support for school-based mental health services amid – and beyond – the COVID-19 pandemic.

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