Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Benicia Unified to hold mental wellness subcommittee meeting Thursday

(Originally published in the 1/27/16 edition)

   Benicia Unified School District’s mental wellness subcommittee will be holding its monthly meeting Thursday. The topic will be “A Physically Healthy New Start.” 
   According to Mental Health Coordinator Jessica Garcia, the group is a subcommittee of the district’s wellness committee, which is based on California’s standards for healthy and safe schools.
   “We bunched up some of the component areas into three main categories and focus on the committees would focus on,” Garcia said. “The three subcommittees are physical wellness and then mental wellness.”
   The mental wellness subcommittee members consist of parents, students and district staff who meet on a regular basis to help guide the school district on how to work with mental wellness. 
   “Our focus this year is on self care and promoting self care not only to our students but the staff and parent educators as well,” she said. 
   Garcia says the subcommittee is working with training staff on handling mental wellness and new programs in the district and has surveyed students on what resources they need.
   “We’ve expanded our mentoring program from Liberty High School to Benicia Middle and Benicia High School,” she said. 
  Garcia says the subcommittee has been working to try and promote more participation in meetings.
   “It seems to be the same handful of people from the district and the community that comes to the meetings,” she said. “At the beginning go the year, we tried to shift the time a little bit later, thinking we would have more participation because maybe people weren’t done with work in at the time we were meeting and couldn’t get there.”
   “The last meeting that was held in December had a lot more participation than we had had from the beginning of the year, and we had students there as well as community members and a number of staff members who have been interested,” she added. “I think it’s starting to increase again.”
   Garcia believes the subcommittee will provide good support for students.
   “The first thing students need to learn their best is to feel safe and to feel emotionally safe,” she said. “The fact is it’s part of what we as a school district teach and promote and want to create awareness around. It’s not something a specialized administrator or that one really good teacher does alone. It is something that is taught and gets embedded into the culture of a school district by incorporating not only the educators but the students’ voice and the community around it.”
   The next mental wellness subcommittee meeting will be held at 4 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 28 at Benicia Middle School, located at 1100 Southampton Road. For more information, visit or email Garcia at


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