Letters to the Editor: It takes a village to protect kids’ mental health. Here’s what L.A. County is doing

A youngster's nose is swabbed by a healthcare worker.
A kindergarten student being tested for COVID-19 in April.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: I commend The Times Editorial Board for calling attention to a serious problem in education — the mental well-being of our children, which was concerning before COVID-19.

The pandemic only enhanced our urgency. Virtually every student in Los Angeles County and beyond has experienced some level of trauma since March 2020.

These challenges compel education leaders to identify support measures for students through social workers, school counselors and trauma support teams, backed by professional development to prepare staff to recognize danger signs.


As a social worker and mental health professional, I know we must devote resources to recognize and remove stigmas about trauma and mental health.

The Los Angeles County Office of Education is creating new programs that support student mental health. This week, I announced the appointment of a chief of well-being and support services. The office is also expanding its Employee Assistance Services for Education program, which provides counseling for school employees.

Additionally, we launched a professional development series that provides educators with the tools to teach and foster social-emotional learning skills. We partnered with the L.A. County Department of Public Health on a new program that helps schools recover from the pandemic with grants to teachers, schools and districts.

Finally, our office continues to expand its community schools model in partnership with the L.A. County Department of Mental Health. As your editorial so accurately points out, our children’s well-being depends on support from the entire community.

Debra Duardo, Downey

The writer is superintendent of the Los Angeles County Office of Education.