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LAUSD's Mental Health Hotline: Who's Calling? About What?

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Patrick McCauley, a mental health consultant for the L.A. Unified School District, answers calls to LAUSD's mental health hotline in his garage. (Courtesy of Patrick McCauley)
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May is Mental Health Awareness Month.

In April, we told you about the Los Angeles Unified School District's new mental health hotline, created to help students and families "manage fear, anxiety and other challenges related to COVID-19.”

Now, we have insight into who's calling — and about what.

According to call data provided by the district, the mental health hotline received 581 calls in April.

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  • 19 callers were students
  • 350 were parents
  • 303 calls were for "basic resources" (think food, devices, diapers)
  • 241 were for general mental health concerns, including "anxiety, stress, sadness, or anger"
  • 36 were situations where there was concern someone might harm themselves or others

The numbers speak to just how difficult it can be for school psychologists, counselors, social workers, and psychiatrists to connect with vulnerable students while campuses are closed.
"Services that we're able to provide on the campus in the school mental health clinic are just so vital to so many students," explained Dr. Sheryl Kataoka, a child psychiatrist. "Even more now with coronavirus. Our services in school mental health are even more critical."

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, the LAUSD mental health hotline – (213) 241-3840 – accepts calls from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., in both English and Spanish.

The Los Angeles Department of Mental Health also has a hotline which is staffed 24/7. That number is (800) 854-7771, or you can text “LA” to 741741.

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