School Counselor Connection

Tips for Success, Volume 9, September 2021

Big picture

This month's newsletter is dedicated to support you in your Suicide Prevention efforts for the month of September and throughout the year. You will find a few toolkits with pre planned activity ideas you could launch as schoolwide SEL and Mental Health Awareness events, along with ready to go lessons, infographics for SEL activities.

Big picture

September is Suicide Prevention Month

For students, feeling safe is important.

After meeting basic needs for survival

like food, water, and sleep,

feeling safe and secure is necessary before anyone

can focus on relationships, learning,

or other opportunities for personal success.

- Mental Health America

September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and now more than ever, it is vital that we come together to make a difference in our community. Every person can play a role in suicide prevention by recognizing the signs of suicide, finding the best words to support someone in need, and promoting local and national resources.

Student Mental Health Must be a Priority this School Year

Mental Health America launches their annual Back to School Toolkit to give parents, and educators the tools and resources they need to support their children’s mental health. This year’s toolkit, "Facing Fears, Supporting Students", is full of hands-on materials that can help students navigate all the emotions and challenges of the new school year.

This year’s toolkit includes:

• Fact sheets for parents/teachers

• Fact sheets for children/teens

• Key messages and statistics

• A sample drop-in article; and

• Sample social media post language and images;

• Worksheets; and more!

Full Toolkit here Mental Health America Website here

Suicide Prevention Activities Toolkit

The term back to school takes on an entirely new meaning this coming year, and with it comes additional challenges and stressors for our youth. In addition to re-engaging on the usual tasks and roles that schools have typically served, there will need to be an even more vigilant effort paid to youth mental wellness. During Suicide Prevention Week, the month of September and throughout the year, schools are encouraged to use the resources below to engage students, staff and the larger school community.

2021 Orange County Suicide Prevention Events Calendar

Interested in more events during the month of September? The OC Health Care Agency has you covered. Make sure to check out the 2021 Orange County Suicide Prevention Events Calendar – there are lots of valuable events lined up for the whole community to participate. Share the calendar widely and encourage your staff, friends, neighbors, and family members to get involved!

The full calendar of events can be found here.

Youth Suicide Prevention Resources

A listing of resources to help school districts address the need for youth suicide prevention, intervention, and postvention, including a model youth suicide prevention policy for local educational agencies (LEAs).

Click here for more information.

School Based Mental Health Professional Collaboration

See below for resources on how SBMHP can work together to support student mental health

The collaborative services provided by all SBMHPs include:

  • Supporting the mental health and wellness of students, families, and school communities
  • Promoting equitable learning and student success
  • Cultivating a safe and healthy school climate
  • Fostering the academic, behavioral, and social/emotional development of “the whole child”
  • Collaborating and consulting with parents/caregivers, teachers, and administrators
  • Designing, implementing, and evaluating evidence-informed and data-driven prevention, intervention, and responsive programs, within Multi-tiered System of Support (MTSS).

Fostering the Whole Child: A Guide to School Based Mental Health Professionals: Read this guide to learn more about School Based MH Professionals, their roles and expertise, and best practices for a effective and collaborative relationship.

Roles of School Social Workers/ LMFTS, School Counselors, School Psychologists: together the School Based Mental Health Professionals are a mighty team. Learn more about each role and their specialization, and use this tool to help you guide your services this school year.

Help you Administrator Understand Your Role as s School Counselor

Visit our website for resources. Website will continue to get updated regularly

Big picture

A Pathway to Wellness

Social and emotional learning and mental health health are not the same, but very much related. Educators can promote mental health through social emotional learning. Social and emotional learning (SEL) is increasingly recognized as playing a critical role in the promotion of positive mental health and the prevention of mental health disorders.

Integrating SEL activities into school-wide/classroom practices enhance social & emotional skills for individual students and promotes mental well-being for all.

Watch the video below to learn more about SEL, Mental Health are interrelated.

SEL 101: What are the core competencies and key settings?

ASCA Student Mindsets and Behaviors Standards

Student Mindsets and Behavior for Student Success Standards directly align with CASEL SEL competencies. Be sure to review the most revised version of the standards.

How are you embedding these standards in your school counseling programs?

CASEL Guiding Principles

"Our task as an educational community is to afford students and adults the opportunity to feel a sense of belonging, to heal, and to thrive. A robust body of research tells us that when evidence-based SEL programming is implemented well, academic achievement increases as does student well-being!"

Durlak, J. A., R. P. Weissberg, A.B. Dymnicki, R.D. Taylor, and K.B. Schellinger, “The impact of enhancing students’ social and emotional learning: A meta- analysis of school-based universal interventions,” Child Development, 82 no. 1 (2011): 405-432.

(Adapted from Hatching Results, 2020)

CASEL Program Guide

The adoption of evidence-based programs is key to providing consistent, high-quality SEL opportunities for all students. To support educators in selecting a high-quality SEL program, our Program Guide serves as a Consumer report-style product that showcases well-designed, evidence-based SEL programs (pre-kindergarten through high school) and the impact they have on student and/or teacher outcomes.

CASEL Tools and Resources

SEL District Resource Center

Resources from districts where SEL programs, practices, and policies are working to support high-quality SEL implementation.

Schoolwide Guide to SEL

Guidance for systemic SEL implementation in a school.

SEL State Resources

Sample policies and practices that support SEL.

SEL Assessment Guide

Guidance to choose and use an SEL assessment.

Guidelines for Selecting Evidence Base SEL Program

Recommendations for choosing the right program

SEL Starts at Home

Resources to bring SEL into your home and community.

SEL Curriculum and Activity Ideas

CASEL: Sample Teaching Activities to Support Core Competencies of Social and Emotional Learning

Greater Good in Education: Find ready to go activities and lessons for K-Adult. Search by grade level, SEL core competency and duration. (Great resource for teachers as well!)

  • Open an account using this link and access ready to go lessons to various SEL and Mental Health Topics

Trauma Informed Learning/ Toolkits

Big picture

Good Reads for School Counselors

Parents report declines in academic, social-emotional skills of young children

The Hechinger Report

For the youngest children, the pandemic's academic and emotional toll might not have received as much attention as it has for older kids, but it has still been severe, according to a new report from the Saul Zaentz Early Education Initiative’s Early Learning Study at Harvard.

We'll need a lot more than academics to help students recover from the pandemic

This year will be like no other when it comes reengaging students in learning. Educators — working with parents and the community — are now planning how to close gaps in learning to get students on grade level. But job one is to address the social, emotional and physical issues that will make academic learning more challenging if they are not met, particularly for the students who have fallen most behind.

School-Based WellSpace Centers Offer a Space of Calm

The Orange County Department of Education and Children’s Health Orange County teamed up to pilot a limited group of new school-based “WellSpace” centers that encourage students to take a break from life’s daily stressors in thoughtfully designed, supervised environments that are safe, calming, and inclusive. WellSpace centers aim to teach students stress management strategies while boosting academic performance and reducing chronic absenteeism from an early age.

Suicide Attempts Rose Among Adolescent Girls During Pandemic

According to a recent Centers for Disease Control (CDC) study, in May 2020, emergency department visits for suspected suicide attempts started to increase among adolescents ages 12 to 17, especially girls. The findings from this study reinforce the need for increased attention to, and prevention efforts for, this population. The CDC noted that suicide risks can be diminished with more social connections for young people and teaching an array of coping skills.

How Affirmations Can Support Your Child's Learning

Children’s mental health and well-being are frequently tied to their achievement in school. Affirmations can support K-12 student mental health and help students perform better in the classroom. This article is packed with information on what positive affirmations and self-affirmations are and how they can support children’s mental health.

Educator Wellness: 6 Resources and Ideas for Self-Care

Teachers and staff members are on the frontlines of daily school life. From creating lesson plans, to grading papers, to attending to students' social-emotional needs, the caring adults in our classrooms are juggling immense workloads. The teaching/school counseling profession can be equal parts rewarding and stressful.

101 Inclusive Get to Know You Questions for Students

This fall, many students will be returning to school in person for the first time in over a year.

Back to school is always a moment for relationship-building, but this year it's going to be even more important to reconnect and get to know students on a personal level.

21 Quick Questions to Check-in on Your Students' Well-Being in 2021

"How are our students doing? "If you're an administrator, teacher, or counselor, this has likely been on your mind—more than ever—this school year.

42 MTSS Intervention Strategies to Bring Back to Your Support Team

Resource by Panorama- Learning recovery is a top concern moving into the 2021-22 school year. If your district is resetting and recommitting to Multi-Tiered System of Support practices that were disrupted during hybrid and remote learning, this toolkit is for you.

title text

California Association of School Counselors Conference

October 28- 29, 2021 2 Day Virtual Conference Registration open!

FREE Online Training for Suicide Prevention

Need to fulfill the district requirement for suicide prevention education? Look no more. The California Department of Education, San Diego County Office of Education, and LivingWorks are making it easy for schools to fulfill these state requirements by offering all middle and high school staff and students (ages 13+) in California the opportunity to complete the LivingWorks Start Suicide Prevention Online Training Program – a 90-minute, evidence-based, online suicide prevention training. Training is geared towards students and staff. Access training here

Here’s how it works:

  • If you are an employee working in any public middle or high school in California, you are eligible to complete this training at no cost.
  • Middle and high school students and staff all utilize the same training program.
  • Students and staff can choose two of the three youth-specific practice scenarios at the end of the training, titled "Eric," "Ali," or "Mikayla and Hailey."
  • Students who complete LivingWorks Start are eligible to earn 90 minutes of community service hours.
  • The training is sponsored by California Assembly Bill 1808.

Suicide Prevention 101 Webinar

Register for the webinar on September 7, 2021 from 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. hosted by The Priority Center’s Outreach and Engagement Team and available to all Orange County residents at no-cost. Register here

What you’ll learn during the presentation:

  • Overview of statistics associated with suicide
  • Signs and risk factors for suicide
  • How to help someone who expresses suicidal thoughts or ideation
  • Support strategies and safety planning
  • Where to get help and how to locate available resources
  • Suggestions for self-care

Didi Hirsch Suicide Prevention Trainings

The community trainings hosted by Didi Hirsch are designed for adults and provide an overview of suicide prevention. Participants will learn about risk factors and warning signs of suicide as well as protective factors. Trainings will be provided remotely via Zoom and will be offered in both English and Spanish.

English Training Dates:

· Thursday, September 9, 2021 from 10:00 - 11:30 a.m.

· Thursday, September 23, 2021 from 1:00 - 2:30 p.m.

Spanish Training Date:

· Thursday, September 9, 2021 from 10:00 - 11:30 a.m.

For more details or to RSVP contact: 714-989-8309 or

Supported: Leveraging Attendance Data to Ensure Ongoing Success

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

11:00 am–12:30 pm PT / 2:00 pm–3:30 pm ET

Register here

The return to school this fall is more challenging than anyone could have anticipated. The surge in Covid-19 cases is increasing the number of students who miss school. In addition, families hard hit by the pandemic and poverty continue to face barriers to attending class and may also experience enrollment hesitancy. In this webinar we will explore what can be done at the local and state level to mitigate the impact of the pandemic and engage students and their families. We’ll examine how chronic absence data can be used to identify students, families and schools that need additional support.

Big picture

Looking for somewhere safe to talk?

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides free and confidential emotional support to people in a suicidal crisis or in emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Contact 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or text 741741.

OC Links Behavioral Health Line – 24/7 Support

OC Links is available 24/7 at (855) 625-4657 and provides information and links to any of the Health Care Agency’s Behavioral Health Services, including crisis services, via telephone and chat.

TEEN LINE – Teens Helping Teens

TEEN LINE is a nonprofit, community-based organization that provides emotional support to youth. TEEN LINE is answered exclusively by Orange and Los Angeles County teenagers, who can relate to what callers are going through. It provides services for individuals ages 19 and under. Call (310) 855-HOPE from 6:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. for support or text “TEEN” to 839863 from 6:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.

Teens 4 Teens Help

Teens4TeensHelp is a website created by teens for teens. The site is led by teens who have faced serious mental health challenges and chose recovery. Through sharing their own personal stories, Teens4TeensHelp hopes to reach other teens in need and let them know that they are not alone in their struggles. The site is packed with helpful information including supportive mental health stories, resources, and self-care ideas.

You and App

"You And" is a resiliency skill-building app that is available at no-cost to all K-12 Orange County students. As students start to emerge from this long year of distance learning, they will be encouraged to maintain a positive mindset when they return to in-person school. Through engaging activities and videos, the app reminds students that things are slowly transitioning to a new normal, and it's important for them to take things one step at a time. Start using the app today! You can also stay up-to-date and follow “You And” on Instagram and Twitter.
OCDE Corner: Training and Resources

Please see below for additional resources

School Based Mental Health Training Series

See flyer below for no-cost trainings for school based mental health professionals on a variety of topics impacting student mental health. Trainings are brought to you by the MHSSA Regional Mental Health Coordinators. If you have any questions, please contact Alva Alvarez at or (949)706-4141.

Resources and Leadership Opportunities for Students

Student Advocates for Mental Health

Do you know about the Student Advocates for Mental Health (SAMH) program and all the opportunities they offer to Orange County public, private, and charter schools at no cost?

The goals of the SAMH program are to engage, train, and support student leadership groups in youth-led efforts to increase mental health awareness, promote suicide prevention, reduce stigma related to mental illness, and increase access to support services on school campuses and in the community. To accomplish these goals, the program offers education, guidance, materials, and resources through the following components:

  • Peer-influencer Workshops
  • Peer-led Campaigns
  • Directing Change Projects
  • Mental Health Awareness Activities

Learn more about the offerings here

Signs of Suicide (SOS) Training for Middle and High School Students

SOS is an evidence-based prevention training developed by MindWise Innovations. Through videos and guided discussions, students will learn about symptoms of depression, warning signs associated with thoughts of suicide, and how to seek help for themselves or support a peer in need through the Acknowledge, Care, Tell (ACT) method. In addition, healthy coping strategies and school resources are discussed. To book this 50-minute in-person or virtual training, contact Stephanie Loscko at

Mental Health 101 Workshop for Middle and High School Students

Young people can play an important role in reducing stigma related to mental illness, increasing awareness about suicide prevention, and promoting access to mental health services. In this in-person or virtual workshop, students will learn foundational knowledge of mental health concepts that will support them to become advocates for themselves and others. To book a 45-60-minute in-person or virtual workshop, contact Stephanie Loscko at

Understanding and Managing Emotions Workshop for Elementary School Students in Grades 4-6

Self-management is an important component of social and emotional learning. For students to achieve this competency, they must understand how different situations can influence their emotions and behavior, as well as how to respond in a healthy and constructive way. In this in-person or virtual workshop, students will learn how to identify different emotions, manage strong feelings, use calming strategies to cope, and identify resources that can help when they need support or are worried about a friend. To book this 50-minute workshop, contact Stephanie Loscko at

Important Dates to Remember in September

OCDE Support & Resources

Instructional Continuity Website- find resources to support your students and families during distance learning.

OCDE Newsroom and Updates

Be Calm Session- guided meditations led by Dr. Vezzuto

Crisis Response Network:

Jennifer Ponce, MSW, CHES, Program Specialist

Family Engagement Program:

Sheree Newman, Program Specialist

Social & Emotional Learning:

Colleen Ferreira, M.Ed., Coordinator

Student Mental Health & PBIS:

Virginia Joseph, Ph.D, Coordinator

Restorative Practice:

Toby Jean Espley M.Ed, Coordinator

McKinney Vento Homeless Information & Support:

Jeanne Awrey Coordinator

​Student Services (CWA/SARB):

Terrance Dunn, M.Ed., Coordinator

Foster Youth Services Coordinating Program:

Raina K Lee, Coordinator

Previous Newsletters

Click here to access previous volumes- be sure to subscribe to our newsletter!

Luz M. Arellano, Ed.D.

K-12 School Counseling Services Coordinator

Educational Services

Orange County Department of Education