This post is an updated version of this article posted on February 25, 2022.
Children’s Hospital Colorado declared a pediatric mental health state of emergency in May of 2021, citing skyrocketing demand for mental health services among Colorado’s youth. In addition to the well-documented impact of the pandemic on mental health, our community also experienced a mass shooting and Colorado’s most destructive wildfire in 2021.
BVSD is committed to providing mental health support for students from kindergarten through graduation. For young learners, sharing feelings and learning to work through problems will be all they ever know, and for older learners, having school-based support is critical to navigating mental health struggles.
We’re investing over $800,000 to support the ongoing mental health needs of students and staff throughout the Boulder Valley School District.
Mental health professional development for BVSD staff
Student After Care (SAC) staff serve a diverse group of students daily at 32 sites throughout Boulder Valley School District (BVSD). From grade levels to academic ability levels to emotional and behavioral health levels, SAC staff must manage each student’s needs and create a safe environment outside of school hours for students and staff.
Impact on Education funded six hours of Calming Kids professional development for BVSD School After Care educators to teach them strategies for managing student mental health needs and their own. The first sessions were held in 2021 thanks to a partnership with the City of Boulder’s Housing and Human Services Department, and additional sessions are planned for 2022.
Expanding BVSD’s team of mental health advocates
In the Boulder Valley School District (BVSD), referrals of students to Mental Health Advocates have risen by 86% this school year compared to the same period during the 2020-21 school year.
Mental Health Advocates supplement what BVSD’s school counselors can provide since their focus is exclusively on mental and behavioral health. Within BVSD, Mental Health Advocates:
- provide prevention and intervention services for students, supporting their social-emotional and behavioral development, student achievement, and crisis intervention
- provide both group and individual counseling support and work directly with students, parents, and staff members
- help families access external resources, including making appropriate referrals to community partners such as Mental Health Partners and Jewish Family Services
Impact on Education provided funding to hire four additional Mental Health Advocates to be deployed year-round in BVSD’s schools most impacted by the Marshall Fire.
“We are seeing a significant increase when it comes to the social-emotional support our students need at this critical moment. Those impacted by the fire are working to process everything that happened. It was a deeply traumatic experience and it will take some time for these students to cope with the tremendous amount of loss and PTSD that everyone impacted by the fires are struggling through.”Tammy Lawrence, Student Support Services Director
The additional support of four new Mental Health Advocates will ensure all of the schools impacted by the Marshall Fire have the intensive layer of mental health support needed, and expand BVSD’s capacity to respond to mental health referrals.
The intensity of mental health concerns and the time required to provide support and intervention varies dramatically from case to case, but BVSD’s leadership is confident that adding these clinicians to the School District team was the most critical immediate step.
Funding to support mental health has come from our generous community partners
- Community Foundation Boulder County
- CDP Colorado Wildfires Recovery Fund
- United Healthcare
- City of Boulder Housing and Human Services Department
YOU CAN HELP …
Impact on Education is a nonprofit organization, and we depend on our community to help us put our mission into action. We are still actively raising funds to support the mental health needs of Boulder Valley students and staff. You can help by making a gift to support this work.