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California PACEs Action

Peer counseling gains popularity as California schools beef up student mental health services []


By Carolyn Jones, Photo: Alison Yin/EdSource, EdSource, February 18, 2022

As schools look for new ways to address student mental health amid the Covid pandemic, more are turning to a practice that costs almost nothing and, if done well, can lead to life-changing results for all involved: peer counseling.

For students who are leery of adults, peer counseling can provide a safe place to work through conflicts with friends, struggles with academics, stress, loneliness, family problems and even more serious issues, such as depression, that have become almost endemic among teenagers as the pandemic wears on.

In the past two years, the state has poured millions of dollars into programs to improve student mental health, which the U.S. surgeon general recently described as a national crisis. Even before the pandemic, students were feeling stressed due to social media, rising poverty and school shootings.

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