Even in safe and sunny Santa Barbara, toxic stress can take a toll, and K-12 students across Santa Barbara Unified School District have been mirroring their peers nationwide in terms of how they respond to mental-health issues personally and among close family and friends, according to the district’s Mental Health Wellness Committee. To help “families focus on mental wellness [and] diminish stress in their bodies and increase safety, peace, inspiration, and fulfilling relationships in their lives,” the committee, in a statement, suggested reading “Stress Management and Teens” at aacap.org and contacting the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Association (samhsa.gov) for tips on identifying stress, depression, and anxiety. Also, a crisis response line at (888) 868-1649 is open around the clock.
The outreach stems from the district’s recognition of the increased national dialogue about mental-health issues during the 2016-17 school year, which saw an uptick in racial tensions — with related protests and activism — as Donald Trump became president, plus the sudden deaths of two high school seniors, one from suicide, the other hit by a train. Heading into 2017-18, the committee — composed of school administrators, counselors, psychologists, and members of the Santa Barbara County Department of Behavioral Wellness — “will highlight wellness tips, how to identify mental-health concerns, and make referrals when intervention … or medical treatment [is] appropriate,” according to a statement, which also explained that there have been “district-wide trainings with the International Trauma Center for school counselors, teachers, and other school staff to strengthen skills around recognizing and responding to student mental health concerns. Between April and June, more than 65 school staff participated in four distinct trainings.”