“If you build it, they will come,” was the famous phrase from the 1989 film, Field of Dreams, that Milpitas Unified School District Executive Director Mary Jude Doerpinghaus referenced as she addressed a distinguished crowd of regional and local stakeholders at the Nov. 16 grand opening of Milpitas High School Wellness Center.
In the first two months, the center has accounted for 554 student visits, with 130 repeat visitors and 16 students in crisis, “and that’s why we’re here,” added Executive Director Doerpinghaus from inside the newly renovated wellness center.
For MHS sophomore Janvi Balakrishnan, one of the many students to utilize the MHS wellness center, it serves as “a place where I don’t have to be lonely,” she shared. “I’m very grateful that our campus has a place that makes everyone feel included.”
The new wellness center is a welcomed addition to a campus life that is shared with more than 3,000 student peers, according to MHS senior student Prarthana Prasad. “It’s a really good environment where I can find resources that can help me just get back to my normal state,” she noted. “It’s just amazing. I never thought that this would come true.”
The MHS center, which is open daily to students and staff throughout the school day, was funded through the Mental Health Student Service Act (MHSSA) and California Schools Partnership (CCSPP) Grants acquired through the Santa Clara County Office of Education, in partnership with 31 school districts and the County Behavioral Health Services Dept. Additionally, Representative Ro Khanna secured $300,000 in federal Community Project Funding for the MHS wellness center implementation through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
“Expanding access to mental health services ensures students receive the support they need to be successful at school and in their communities,” said County Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Mary Ann Dewan. “When students have access to mental health services on their school campuses, they are 21 more times likely to access them.”
MUSD Superintendent Cheryl Jordan added the wellness center “speaks to equity and inclusion and belonging in that now we have an established way of addressing the needs of our students and families who long before COVID have suffered traumatic events in their lives. They know that we care. …and that every child, every person’s well-being matters.”
Two Milpitas High School alumni, MUSD Board of Education President Chris Norwood and Assemblymember Alex Lee, stressed the importance of providing a comfortable, safe space for students to come and receive a variety of support services to help cope with a myriad of challenges in their lives.
“What we’ve done here is we said we recognize those challenges, we recognize that you need a space on this campus where you can go and be with people, be with professionals that can help you so you can continue to exist on this campus and then learn how to make decisions beyond this school day in your life,” Board President Norwood said.
Assemblymember Lee credited the younger generation of students for “making it acceptable and normal and OK to talk about things when you have a bad day or great day or you feel alone.” He added. “I’m glad that right now we understand that mental health is something you gotta keep working at. .... Wellness centers are like gyms for your mind in some ways.”
Along with SCCOE and MUSD team members, also in attendance for the Nov. 16 ceremony to show their support for the wellness center, were Milpitas Mayor Carmen Montano as well as representatives from the offices of Senator Aisha Wahab, Congressman Ro Khanna, County Board Supervisor Otto Lee.
SCCOE-MUSD JOINT PRESS RELEASE: MHS WELLNESS CENTER OPENING 11.29.23
NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING:
The governing board of Milpitas Unified School District will hold a Public Hearing on Tuesday, June 28, 2022.