La Jolla Country Day School

Wellness Programs for the School Community

Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. –World Health Organization

The available research supports the long-held belief that school-based programs continue to be one of the most promising types of preventive mental health interventions available for youth. In addition, mental health is a key foundation of school success. Looking at the statistics, one in five of our students live with mental health challenges and over 50% of all lifetime cases of mental illnesses are diagnosed by age 14. These challenges are universal and despite seemingly ample resources in the independent school community, we still encounter them. La Jolla Country Day School is determined to promote wellness, mental health literacy, and positive change. 

Through a $100,000 award from E.E. Ford and $50,000 from Rady Children's Hospital, La Jolla Country Day School has begun the process of building a Pre-K–12 wellness framework for our school community. A distinctive component of our work together is our partnership with Rady Children’s Hospital child and adolescent psychiatrist and University of California San Diego clinical professor, Dr. Desiree Shapiro. Bringing together experts in medicine and education, we are seeking out creative ways to approach well-being. 

Given the backdrop of the mental wellness challenges students will face over a lifetime in a Pre-K–12 school environment, we feel it is incumbent upon our schools to serve the whole child and encourage resiliency over the arc of one’s developmental journey. In partnership with Dr. Shapiro and Dr. Michael Furlong of the University of California, Santa Barbara, we have developed comprehensive surveys, held focus groups with students, teachers, parent/guardian, and leadership to assess our campus’s culture and climate. This data collection will help highlight opportunities and barriers and better inform our baseline. With the gathered input, we will develop multi-tiered systems of support that suit the needs of our community and ensure interventions are anchored in research-based best practices. We are committed to continuous evaluation and open communication to guide our efforts. We are proud  that our students are involved in the development of the program as we strive to honor their voice, improve their experience, and empower them as drivers of change. 

At La Jolla Country Day School, mental wellness is our priority as we are a school that values and treats all humans with dignity. Through our partnership, we have already gained a greater understanding of and connection to the available community supports for students experiencing mental health difficulties and preventatives. We appreciate that change is challenging and the journey will be as exciting and enlightening as we wish to share the framework with schools across the country. Our project will promote positive education principles and celebrate the strengths of our youth, families, school staff and faculty, so we can facilitate living well, prevention and early intervention of mental health concerns, and recovery. We welcome collaboration and we encourage you to reach out to us by emailing:

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