By Rachel Wulff

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — A new partnership will provide mental health services to students returning to Sacramento schools this fall.

Schools have been empty for months amidst the stay-at-home order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Educators have been rethinking health and safety protocols inside the classroom – and inside the minds of students themselves.

“Everything is together on the need for this,” said Dave Gordon, the Sacramento County Superintendent of Schools.

That’s why the Sacramento County Office of Education and Sacramento County Public Health are launching a partnership to place mental health clinicians in every one of the 385 schools in the county over the next few years.

Each clinician will be permanently assigned to the school.

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“The goal is they will become a team. It won’t be a person parachuting in to provide services for a day or two,” said Gordon.

The idea is to be proactive and provide a center of wellness.

“For everything from depression to resume to informed care and everything in between,” said Director of the Sacramento County Department of Health Services Dr. Peter Beilenson.

School leaders say it is needed now more than ever, given the stresses for students and families associated with virtual learning during the COVID-19 crisis.

“We need to work with students to develop the skills they need so when things do go wrong in their lives they have the ability to deal with them in a way that helps them to stay productive in our schools, and at home,” said Superintendent of the Robla School District Ruben Reyes.

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Sacramento City Schools Superintendent Jorge Aguilar explained how students’ needs would be assessed.

“Who is not coming to school, not displaying positive behavior, not performing well academically,” he said.

Clinicians will be paid for by Medi-Cal. The idea is to identify the mental health needs of students as early as possible to reduce the stigma associated with treatment.

The mental health care model is based on a partnership already in place in the Baltimore school system.

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