Berkeley creates mental health support line for high school students, teachers

Berkeley high school launches mental health line for students
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A mental health support line is now available for Berkeley Unified School District, or BUSD, high school students, families and teachers, providing access to licensed professionals during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The line was established by the city of Berkeley, according to a city press release, and is available Monday through Friday for support, information, consultations and resources from mental health care professionals. The service is offered in English and Spanish.

“We’re all going to be learning and dealing with the mental health impacts of COVID-19 impacts for years to come,” said Steven Grolnic-McClurg, city mental health division manager. “It’s a pretty profound thing that we’re all going through.”

According to the press release, the closure of BUSD schools March 12 suspended access to mental health support for many. Grolnic-McClurg added that during the school year, students often receive individual counseling from their schools and the city, which has largely been transferred to teleconferencing appointments through Zoom or phone calls.

The new line is part of the city’s effort to provide mental health services during the pandemic. It is designed to connect people with the mental health professionals they would have been able to see if schools were open.

According to Grolnic-McClurg, the line is a “warm line” rather than a hotline, meaning that it is not designed for those in acute crises but offers support and resources for those who might need it.

He added that the initiative to begin the line was a staff-led effort at BUSD high schools’ health services department and that the money came from a $216,099 grant for crisis triage from the state’s Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission. The grant will fund about three years of services.

“We do counseling with a lot of teenagers and youth,” Grolnic-McClurg said. “All the same things that you and I are feeling, teenagers are feeling as well.”

Kate Finman is the executive news editor. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @KateFinman_DC.