for Orange County PK-12 School-Based Mental Health
Welcome to the inaugural issue of The Hub!

The Community Networking e-newsletter promoting and sharing PK-12 school mental and wellness events, activities, services, resources, webinars, trainings and more.
The HUB is here to serve you – a beacon to promote your information and share what is happening in Orange County schools, districts, and the community on mental health and wellness for students, staff, teachers, parents, and caregivers. Plus, we might sneak in relevant state policy and national info too.  If you have information to share, we welcome hearing from your organization or school district @

In July, Orange County Health Care Agency (HCA) launched the PK-12 School- Based Mental Health Initiative to support Orange County schools and districts. HCA is partnering with four agencies to implement four projects under this two-year initiative: Community Networking, Educational Activities, a Resource Directory, and Trainings. The HUB is a part of the Community Networking project. 

The goal of the Initiative is to:
  • Support and engage the whole school community and promote timely access to mental health programs to better address student mental health and wellness for PK-12. It includes projects with specific no-cost programs, trainings, and resources for students, parents, caregivers, teachers, school staff, and personnel who interact with students at any level in PK-12 schools.
  • It covers all school districts and is intended to empower all individuals by promoting knowledge about mental health and community dialogue to foster a supportive environment. 
Here are snapshots of the four projects:

  • Community Networking project features key opportunities to serve schools and support mental health for students and families including:
  • A Steering Committee of School District Mental Health Leaders, parents and youth to guide the development of networking opportunities.
  • Virtual Community Networking Meetings to encourage information, resource and best practices exchange and partnerships.
  • Webinars on special topics of interest. 
  • A youth led conference to support student mental health and wellness.
  • The HUB – this e-newsletter to promote and exchange information throughout the County from School Districts and organizations on mental health and wellness. 

HCA is partnering with Angela Castellanos from the Center for Applied Research Solutions (CARS), and Colleen Reilly and Gaby Rodriguez from The Reilly Group to implement the Community Networking project. For more information contact Angela at

  • Educational Activities project- HCA has partnered with The Orange County Department of Education (OCDE) to provide a new K-12 Mental Health Educational Services program called Student Advocates for Mental Health. The overarching goal of the program will be to provide youth the education, tools and leadership opportunities to promote school-wide mental health awareness campaigns and activities.
  • Youth leadership groups and clubs will be encouraged to apply for the Student Advocates for Mental Health program. Once selected, OCDE will train, engage and support youth leaders with implementing Peer-led Campaigns, Directing Change Projects, and Mental Health Awareness Activities to promote school-wide awareness for suicide prevention, reduce stigma related to mental illness, and increase access to mental health services. Stay tuned, applications are coming soon!
  • The Educational Activities project is led by Elke Petras and Stephanie Loscko from OCDE. For more information contact Stephanie at
  • Resource Directory project serves as a one-stop-shop for student mental health resources in Orange County. The Center for Applied Resource Solutions (CARS) is partnering with the HCA to develop a comprehensive school mental health Resource Directory.
  • The Resource Directory will be a searchable, web-based directory of available services and complementary education materials that enhance the ability of school personnel, students, parents, and caregivers to navigate mental health systems and access appropriate mental health resources. By promoting education, awareness, and connection with providers, the Resource Directory will be vital to improving help-seeking and creating access points for school personnel, students, and families in need of mental health supports.

The Resource Directory is led by Miranda March from the Center for Applied Research Solutions (CARS). For more information contact Miranda at

  • Training project will carry out a peer-based Mental Health Ambassador training program in Orange County schools that aims to improve the capacity of students, parents and school personnel to identify and respond to the mental health needs of students. HCA has partnered with Latino Health Access (LHA) to provide this service. LHA will partner with 35 schools per year to engage elementary, middle, and high school students through a two-prong approach. 
  • The first prong is in a series of age-appropriate trainings designed to empower students to express their own mental health needs, develop skills to seek support, learn about resources available, and learn ways to support their peers. 
  • Second, these trained students will serve as ambassadors to design and carry out peer-led mental health education and awareness activities within their schools to engage more students in topics such as stigma reduction, seeking help, and suicide prevention. Additionally, the program will also build the capacity of adult allies to support students in each school through a set of trainings geared toward parents and caregivers as well as for school personnel (e.g., teachers, administrators, FACE staff) who interact with students. The program will make it a priority to reach at-risk K-12 students and Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Intersex and Questioning (LGBTIQ) youth.

The Training project is led by Nancy Mejia and Luz Gonzalez from Latino Health Access. For more information contact Luz at
Strong Families, Strong Children – Services for Veteran
Households Webinar
Coming up! The Orange County Department of Education is hosting a webinar on Tuesday, September 29, from 2:00-3:30 p.m. that will focus on the mental health and resource supports available to military-connected families. Thousands of K-12 students qualify for free mental health and support services, and Strong Families, Strong Children wants to make these services known to all. Register for the webinar and for more information contact Sheree at

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School Health on the Frontlines Conference
Don’t miss the California School-Based Health Alliance first virtual conference on October 6-8, 2020. The 3-day conference is for educators, advocates and other leaders in school-based health care to connect, learn and grow. During the conference participants will increase their capacity to care for students during this unprecedented moment and beyond. 

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Building Resilient Families Webinar
The Building Resilient Families Webinar is focused on mitigating trauma and how families can become stronger than ever despite COVID-19 implications. Hosted by Early Childhood OC, this webinar featured leaders in the field and took place on August 19, 2020, but you can still listen and learn by viewing the webinar recording. For more information, contact Sandy Avzaradel, at
School-Based Mental Health Funding Opportunity
Cigna is seeking to fund programs that address mental health and emotional well-being challenges for children, including programs to promote collaboration between stakeholders - school staff, teachers, clinicians and local/national nonprofits. The deadline to apply is September 30, 2020 by 5 p.m. EST.
La Quinta High School Students Knock it Out of the Park
Congratulations to creative writing students Alexa Wright, Layla Nguyen, Keanu Hua, and Brian Ly, and their teacher Amanda LaPera at La Quinta High School in Garden Grove Unified School District who knocked it out of the park with their amazing PSA selected as the 30-second commercial for Fox Sports West to air during the Angels game! Check out their powerful PSA “Audience of One" intended to highlight the warning signs of suicide. Great work!   
Take Some Time for Self-Care  
Welcome back educators to the ‘20- ‘21 School Year and the ever-evolving school situation. Phew! Since the school closures in March, everyone in the school community has faced a variety of changes and uncertainties requiring a lot of patience and flexibility. During this time, self-care is even more important. We invite you to take the time, lean in, and set up a wellness plan for the year to take care of you. This helpful resource Why Teacher Self Care Matters can support you to continue being the greatest at what you do each day for students. 

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Back to School After COVID-19: Supporting Student and Staff Mental Health Mental Health Toolkit and OC Resources.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, school leaders are asking how best to support student and staff mental health and well being needs. Here are some resources that can truly help:  
  • Community resources provided by Orange County Department of Education (OCDE) and the Orange County Health Care Agency which cover vital information on: reopening guides, instructional continuity, distance learning resources, informational flyers in different languages, school waivers and more! 
  • Another great resource is this high quality Toolkit developed by the Mental Health Technology Transfer Center Network and funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA). It serves as a practical guide to sometimes difficult conversations regarding mental health with staff and students including sections on: Working with Community Partners to Support Student and Staff Mental Health; Acknowledging and Addressing Grief; Using Mindfulness to Teach Self-Regulation at School and Home; and, Creating a Vision for a Better Future.

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OC-NAMI WarmLine
Did you know about the NAMI-OC WarmLine? The National Association on Mental Illness, NAMI, offers this important free and confidential telephone service to provide emotional support and resources to Orange County residents, including families and children. If you or a loved one are experiencing mental health concerns, the NAMI-OC WarmLine is a supportive resource to help.
State Superintendent Tony Thurmond recently appointed former Illinois Special Education Leader Heather Calomese as the New Director of the Special Education Division.
Tell Us About Your Community Events - Want to share an event that advances student mental health? Let the Hub help. Whether an event, training, webinar, grant, or a “zoom” gathering, we can help spread the word! Send comments and community event information to Angela, Colleen or Gaby at

Share The HUB – forward it on to educators, staff, administrators, parents, families and students in the school community and community organizations serving youth and families. 
The HUB is brought to you by The Reilly Group and CARS as part of the HCA Community Networking project, and humble editors: Colleen Reilly, Gabriela Rodriguez, and Angela Castellanos. We look forward to serving you! 
Contact the Orange County School Mental Health Community Network
Toll-Free: (888) 550-6155  Email:
Funded by OC Health Care Agency (OCHCA), Behavioral Health Services, Prevention & Intervention, Mental Health Services Act/Prop. 63
Invite your team to sign up: