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CVUSD Prioritizes Student Wellness

In response to overwhelming evidence that youth mental health has been declining over the past decade, the Conejo Valley Unified School District has launched a Wellness Program that proactively addresses the social, emotional and mental health needs of students.

Available to all secondary students, the program uses a multi-tiered approach that includes school-wide mental health awareness activities and classroom presentations, as well as ongoing small group and individual counseling.

The program targets students in middle and high school and is offered before, during and after-school depending upon the schedule of each school site.

“At the high schools, drop-in services are available where students can go for brief support when they are struggling with things like difficulty with their peer relationships, anxiety, grief and loss, and other mental health challenges,” says Heather Chamberlin-Scholle, the district’s director of Mental Health and Wellness Services.

The program is unique for two reasons—first it is proactive in nature, which means that students can access support in the moment.

“One of the goals of the program is to prevent students from developing more serious mental health challenges by offering in the moment access to mental support early,” Chamberlin-Scholle explains. “Second, by having the service available on campus, barriers to accessing mental health support are removed as students can easily access services in a location that is familiar to them and their families.”

The Conejo Unified School District’s Wellness Program is staffed by mental health professionals and graduate students obtaining master’s degrees in a mental health-related field. These professionals are trained to offer evidence-based, therapeutic support to students to address a range of mental health issues.

“It is our intent that through the provision of early intervention, students can get the support they need early on, preventing a more complex problem in the future,” Chamberlin-Scholle says.

The goal is to optimize learning and mental health by giving students skills needed to manage the stressors of daily living in a healthy manner, to increase mental health awareness and to prevent children adolescents and their families from having to deal with the factors contributing to mental health declines alone.

“Prevention is a core value and goal of the program,” Chamberlin-Scholle emphasizes. “We want students and their families to know they are not alone in dealing with mental health-related struggles and to seek out support at the onset of social-emotional or mental health-related problems.”

To understand the gravity of these struggles, Chamberlin-Scholle pointed out the advisory issues in December 2021 by Dr. Vivek H. Murthy, the U.S. Surgeon General, entitled, “Protecting Youth Mental Health.” Murthy’s report outlines the precipice upon which communities sit when it comes to addressing the mental health needs of their children, including more than 10 decades of research that outline a consistent decline in the mental health of children.

“The report cites a multitude of research to support this claim,” says Chamberlin-Scholle, adding that mental health consists of many complex factors, including biological, environmental and generational components.

In the Conejo Valley Unified School District, “we’ve seen increases in youth mental health problems due to a number of factors, such as increased access to information that may be too complex for kids to process developmentally (i.e., climate change, school shootings, war), social media, grief and loss, isolation, academic pressures, racial equity, disrupted attachment and barriers to obtaining mental health intervention at the onset of the problem.”

“That said, it is important not to be too prescriptive when it comes to the causes of mental health,” Chamberlin-Scholle adds. “Often students experience a constellation of factors that lead to declines in mental health, a perfect storm of sorts. The Conejo Valley has not been immune to these factors… I feel it is the responsibility of the community to support kids so they can grow into healthy, happy, functioning adults.”

The Conejo Valley Unified School District is committed to supporting the mental health and overall well-being of its students. Earlier this year, the Conejo Valley Unified School District was awarded an $11.3 million grant to enhance school-based mental health services from the U.S. Department of Education. The District will use these important funds over the next 5 years to continue to expand and build upon the mental health services and wellness program it provides to students across all of its campuses.

For more information about the Wellness programs, visit .