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Wednesday, February 5, 2020

LOS ANGELES—Last Wednesday, officials from the County of Los Angeles, including the Board of Supervisors, the Departments of Public Health (Public Health) and Mental Health (Mental Health), and the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) announced the opening of a Wellbeing Center to address the social, emotional, and mental health needs of young people at Alexander Hamilton High School. This will be one of 37 Centers operating at high schools throughout LA County.

“The opening of this Wellbeing Center represents our vision of providing compassionate services to young people in our community in a way that has never been done before,” said Second District Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. “We will provide supportive service for the trauma they may face in their neighborhoods after it occurs, and equip them with the tools they need to help prevent it in the first place.”

Research suggests that many youths enrolled in LA County schools may lack preventative care at an age when risk is highest for uptake of smoking/vaping, for unsafe sex and other for other unhealthy behaviors including use of alcohol and other substances. The Centers will offer services to educate students for lifelong protective practices and promote social/emotional well-being, youth leadership, and sexual health. These spaces will be youth-friendly and will provide students with a safe, welcoming place where they will find caring adults, supportive peers and integrated services.

“We are excited about this new partnership with schools, the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health and Planned Parenthood to address the social, emotional and sexual health needs of adolescents while keeping them safe and in school,” said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, Director of the Los Angeles County of Public Health.

Each Center is staffed by two Master’s level trained Health Educators, who will facilitate classes, educational groups, and activities aimed at equipping teens with information about substance use prevention, behavioral health, and sexual health, as well as the skills they need to have healthy relationships, protect their health, and plan for the future. Through in-Center and in-classroom activities, the Health Educators deliver an age-appropriate, evidence-informed curriculum that complies with California Healthy Youth Act (CHYA) requirements with added emphasis on behavioral health, substance use and social and emotional well-being.