The School Crisis Response Clinician program was first established to expand understanding of the inequities that our communities face every day and to facilitate action towards positive change at a school district level. In partnership with the Long Beach Unified School District (LBUSD), this unique emergency response team aims to decrease police presence on school campuses, decrease suspensions and expulsions, and increase safety and emotional wellness for all students. Here is an update from the two clinicians who lead this innovative initiative.
Through our collaboration with LBUSD and School Safety Emergency Preparedness, we continue to further develop our program by providing access and support to as many students as possible. Our efforts include: having weekly team meetings with The Guidance Center supervisor, School Safety supervisor and school social worker consultant, attending training sessions that provide helpful crisis intervention strategies, and researching peer-reviewed articles to expand our understanding of mental health and best practices for crisis intervention. We also expanded our services to include specialized high schools, provided presentations for school safety officers on various mental health topics, and debriefed with one another after responding to calls to provide space for conceptualization and clinicians well-being. The approach continues to be a multi-tiered system of support prioritizing student well-being.
In being intentional about our purpose, the School Crisis Response team empowers staff to utilize the CARES model, which was developed as an intervention to engage students in de-escalating strategies before contacting a Crisis Response Clinician. CARES was created with the purpose of demonstrating a trauma-informed approach to mental health crises.
The CARES model is defined as:
Alleviate emotional distress by removing triggers,
Regulate by engaging students in grounding skills,
Encourage problem solving
School Crisis Response team on school site
We continue to successfully provide support during mental health crises by assisting staff in de-escalating, restoring, and promoting emotional and behavioral regulation with students. For the school year of 2022-2023 we responded to a total of 130 calls. These calls varied from on-campus and off-campus crisis interventions, consultations, follow-ups, staff training, as well as to daily briefings with school safety officers.
Our hope is that this program will continue to expand and ensure that mental health needs at the school level are being prioritized district wide. We are fortunate to be in a position where our skills and passions have been well received and we hope to continue to build on the relationships we have established with our partners.
Jacqueline Gallegos is a clinical therapist in The Guidance Center’s Long Beach Outpatient Program, where she helps guide children and families struggling with mental health conditions or abuse toward positive and productive futures. She is especially passionate about working with adolescents and their families in navigating acculturational differences that may impact relational dynamics, communication, anxious, and depressive symptoms. Before joining The Guidance Center team in 2019, Gallegos worked with families and adults as a Domestic Violence Victim Advocate. Gallegos earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Human Services, a Bachelor’s of art in Psychology, and a Master’s in Counseling at California State University, Fullerton.
Yessenia Arevalo is a clinical therapist in The Guidance Center’s School Based Program, where she helps children and families with mental health related issues in order to improve functioning in all areas. She is especially passionate about addressing issues that impact the Latinx and marginalized groups and advocating for better access to services within the community that can facilitate positive outcomes. Before joining The Guidance Center team in 2020, Arevalo worked with individuals as Domestic Violence and Human Trafficking clinician providing mental health services. Arevalo earned a Bachelors of Arts in Psychology with a minor in Women, Gender Sexuality studies and a Master’s in Social Works at University of Southern California