SF high school students seek improved mental health services | KALW

SF high school students seek improved mental health services

Jul 2, 2019

Elizabeth Gao, second from left, is among the youth leaders from the Chinese Progressive Association who helped change San Francisco Unified policy to improve mental health services at high school wellness centers.
Credit Lee Romney

A group of teens with the Chinese Progressive Association in San Francisco realized their mental health needs were being overlooked at school. So they did some research  -- and wound up changing school district policy.

"I began to value my academics more than my mental health and my physical health. My mindset was instilled with the constant belief that I was worthless. To summarize, I couldn't and didn't love myself." -- Recent high school graduate Elizabeth Gao

San Francisco’s Chinese Progressive Association runs a youth leadership program. Teens who participate take on an in-depth project every few years. That’s how they sharpen their advocacy and public speaking skills. Their most recent campaign was deeply personal. Youth leaders realized that many of them had struggled with mental health issues  -- and they hadn’t gotten the help they needed at their high schools. So they did some research, put out a study, and changed district policy. On June 25, 2019, the San Francisco Unified Board of Education unanimously approved their resolution. It’s called “Our Healing in Our Hands” and it marks an important shift in the way high school wellness centers will be run. Spoiler alert: the young people gave themselves the power to decide what works.  KALW Education Reporter Lee Romney explains. Listen here. 

You can contact Lee at education@kalw.org