A program that helps students cope with mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders, academic stress, low self-esteem and substance abuse has been recognized by county education officials.
The school's Counseling and Support Services for Youth Program, or CASSY, was recognized Wednesday afternoon with the prestigious Glenn W. Hoffmann Award, given annually by the Santa Clara County School Boards Association.
School officials will be honored at 6 p.m. April 27 at Fiorillo’s Restaurant, 638 El Camino Real, in Santa Clara. The honorees will also receive $500.
Matsuoka explained that one of the most important student needs is counseling support services by licensed and trained therapists, who are different than school and academic counselors.
"It's the best counseling and support service that I've ever seen implemented in a high school," Matsuoka said.
The program has three licensed therapists on campus for about 30 hours a week who do student counseling and supervise counseling interns who have completed their graduate school work and are finishing their licensing requirements, he said. "If you put all that together we have more than 100 hours of counseling support services available to students," Matsuoka added. "That's a significant amount of support. If we had a crisis on campus, we already have a team in place to help."
Liz Schoeben, executive director of the program at the high school, said she was honored to receive the award. "We've won because our program is really affecting the students. We're sustainable, it's creative and we're doing good work."
Schoeben said about 25 percent of the high school's 1,800 students are helped through the program, or about 400 students a year. They receive assessment services or individual therapy. The program also does outreach to the entire student body and offers presentations on suicide prevention and depression education.
The award honors Glenn W. Hoffmann, who served as superintendent of Santa Clara County schools from 1967-84, and believed that leadership was a key factor in educational reform.
According to the CASSY page on the school's website, the majority of youth battling the issues the program hopes to address don't receive treatment. Left untreated, the page said, many teens contemplate suicide—the third leading cause of death for young people today.
The program was started at the LGHS in 2009.