The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

Investing in student wellness

California bill increases funding for school-based mental health services
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Graphic | Corinna Kuo

Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 483 on Oct. 8, 2023, and it went into effect Jan. 1, 2024, providing more state funding for health services in California schools, particularly mental healthcare. The bill ensures that all participating local education agencies (LEAs) are reimbursed by the state for all eligible healthcare expenses. The State Department of Health Care Services is required to distribute an updated program guide to LEAs by July 1, 2024.

According to FUHSD’s website, the district spends close to $5 million a year on school-based therapists and psychologists for students to access throughout the school year. Associate Superintendent Trudy Gross says these funds, along with other funds that the district spends on mental health needs, can be recouped with state funding through AB 483. Gross emphasizes that the reimbursed funds given through AB 483 are then put to fund more mental healthcare services for students, offering them more resources and help. 

“We’re not reducing our costs,” Gross said. “We’re taking that recouped cost and we’re putting it back out either in the form of other support that we’re providing on behalf of students for wellness, or we’ve utilized it for staff to participate in professional development and conferences — things that in the end further benefit our students.”

Mental Health at FUHSD by Kalyani Puthenpurayil

Gross states that one way the district plans to spend the extra funding is to create more wellness spaces for students. Currently, only MVHS and Cupertino High School have wellness centers. However, Gross states that the district is attempting to open a third wellness center, and she hopes to have one on every FUHSD campus by the fall of 2026. MVHS Wellness Space Support Specialist Doreen Bonde also says wellness centers are crucial to students’ mental health. Although Bonde does not currently intend to use funding to change the wellness room, she hopes that the funding can be used to provide further wellness opportunities for FUHSD students.

“Personally, my hope is that the bill will provide more opportunities for FUHSD students to learn about how to better care for their mental and physical health and be able to access whatever level of care they want and need to support that,” Bonde said in an email. “What I would love to see with increased funding is more one-on-one mental health support for students who want or need it, especially those who may not be able to access it outside of school.”

However, senior Nishika Gorla, vice-president of Monta Vista’s Bring Change to Mind Club, believes that a lack of funding may not be the biggest barrier to students getting help. She highlights how students don’t speak up often or get help due to the stigma around mental health. Although a wellness room is available for students to visit and de-stress, she says she is unsure whether students are taking advantage of it. 

Graphic | Brandon Xu

Bonde also recognizes the stigma around mental health and believes that systemic changes, such as implementing the Assembly Bill, are necessary and more effective than any other approach. Gross believes that the passing of AB 483 will continue to support the ongoing battle against the mental health crisis.

“It’s an acknowledgment of the fact that schools are providing a significant amount of support to students; and students, parents and community members look to us to do that as well,” Gross said. “So I think financially supporting that effort that’s already in place is significant. I think it’s important and it’s appropriate.”

Due to the novelty of the bill, Gross and other FUHSD staff are still discussing its impacts on the district. They believe that if the district can bill the state for every student visiting the wellness center, the money recouped through AB 483 could be reinvested into the wellness rooms. 

“Any money that we receive would continue to support those efforts,” Gross said. “It is important to us that students not only meet high expectations and achieve well academically, but that they feel good about themselves, and they leave us with good tools to take care of themselves as they go into the future.”

About the Contributors
Liz Liu, Staff Writer
Liz Liu is currently a sophomore and a staff writer for El Estoque. In her free time, she enjoys listening to music, cooking, and watching her pet gecko.
Kalyani Puthenpurayil, Co-Editor-in-Chief
Kalyani is currently a senior and a co-editor-in-chief for El Estoque. She previously served as a sports editor and is a midfielder on the field hockey team at MVHS. In her free time, she likes to read, listen to music and spend time with her little brothers and friends.
Brandon Xu, News Editor
Brandon is currently a senior and a news editor for El Estoque. In his free time he enjoys reading, playing video games and occasionally going on runs to get out of the house. He also likes to sketch a little bit, although it seems he can only come up with good ideas to draw when he is bored in math class.
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