Community Concerns

News from the Community Concerns Department

Back to School Mental Health Toolkit

Parents and PTA Leaders, the adolescent and teen years are a time when young people start to question their identity and self-worth. Parents, caregivers, school personnel and young people can take steps to build self-esteem and foster body positivity to reduce risk of depression, self-injury and other negative outcomes.

Mental Health America has developed tools and resources to inform both students and parents about why mental health matters and how self-esteem, self-image and the disorders that affect the way young people see and treat themselves can affect a student’s overall health.

The 2016 Mental Health America Back to School Toolkit is designed for MHA Affiliates, advocates, and organizations of all types to use with parents, youth and school personnel to raise awareness of the importance of mental health issues that start during the adolescent and teen years.

Please visit the Mental Health America website for more information:

By using the toolkit materials, you will help members of your community:

  • Be aware of the risk factors and early warning signs for mental health disorders in youth
  • Access resources for finding treatment and help in times of crisis
  • Learn strategies for addressing common teen struggles and mental health concerns
  • Increase understanding of next steps and treatment options available to help young people address their mental health.

download indicatorClick to download the Back to School 2016 Full Toolkit (pdf).


Marijuana Facts

Recently attitudes about Cannabis use have lessened. Kids and adults receive an incredible amount of conflicting information on the true and long-lasting harms of Marijuana use. The three links below are resources that PTAs can use to provide information and resources to your school communities about cannabis use and associated problems.

Marijuana_Talk_Kit –  Marijuana-and-Health  –  Marijuana-Mental-Health-Factsheet

Drowning Prevention

Drowning is the overall leading cause of death for all children ages 1-14 in San Diego County.

Swimming clipartThe peak age for these drowning deaths is 2 to 3 years old. Most of these incidents occur in residential pools, bathtubs and buckets. Below are resources for PTA leaders to share with parents through your school communities. Please consider highlighting this information as the number of drowning and near drowning incidents is on the rise.

Learn to swim with the Red Cross

From Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego

Click to download these resources – Water Watcher Tag distribution flier and Water Safety flier

USDA logoU.S. Department of Agriculture’s Summer Meal Program

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Summer Meal Program is an extension of the USDA’s Free and Reduced Lunch Program which feeds 22 million children and teens during the school year.

The Summer Meal Programs help children and teens under the age of 18 get the nutritious meals they need even when school is not in session during summer months. Unfortunately these summer programs only reach 4 million students nationally.

Please share with your school communities.

Find a Summer Meals Site Near You

To find a Summer Meals Program Site near you across San Diego or Imperial County visit

The Summer Meals Program runs from June 10th through August 15th.


Texting and driving warningTexting & driving Warning‘Texting and driving ~ It Can Wait.” 49 percent of commuters admitted to texting while driving — a higher rate than reported by teens (43 %). Five seconds is the average time your eyes are off the road while texting. When traveling at 55 mph, that’s enough time to cover the length of a football field blindfolded. A driver who texts or uses a hand-held cellphone is four times more likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves or cause death.

Consider volunteering for your city’s CERT program. San Diego County has 32 CERT programs with more than 4,000 volunteers. The Community Emergency Response Team program provides disaster preparedness training to volunteers on topics that include fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations. CERT members undergo 24 hours of training to receive certification, and purchase personal protective equipment to participate. During a disaster, your community team can augment conventional emergency services.

‘Resolve to Be Ready’ a county program for disaster preparedness created a free SD Emergency App includes notifications, detailed maps from the County’s Emergency includes notifications, detailed maps from the County’s Emergency Operations Center about road closures, evacuation areas and shelter locations. It also includes CAL FIRE, and other local social media feeds. To download visit

As part of Live Well San Diego, the County’s ongoing initiative to improve the quality of life of local residents by helping them receive their Earned Income Tax Credit on their taxes, free tax preparation services are available by calling 2-1-1 to make an appointment. Also volunteers will assist families to determine if they qualify for CalFresh benefits (formerly known as food stamps). The IRS estimates that between 20 and 25 percent of eligible individuals do not claim their EITC each year.

With one in four adult San Diegans facing mental health challenges, it’s ‘Up to Us’ to make San Diego a supportive community for those experiencing such challenges. Suicide is a leading cause of death in our County. On September 5th, the Suicide Prevention Council (SPC), Community Health Improvement Partners (CHIP) and the County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency held a press conference where they 1) Released the 2014 Report to the Community on the status of suicide in the County; 2) Premiered a five-minute outreach video featuring local heroes in our community and others that have been impacted by suicide; and 3) Encouraged everyone to be more open and transparent in acknowledging and addressing mental and behavioral health issues in our communities. Visit the It’s Up to Us website –

Crisis line phone numberNo cost ‘Question – Persuade – Refer’ (QPR) Gatekeeper Trainings are available to attend or to host. Visit www. and click on Trainings for more information. As a QPR-trained Gatekeeper, you will learn to:

  • Recognize warning signs of suicide
  • Know how to offer hope
  • Know how to get help and save a lifeLive chat available

Call the San Diego Access and Crisis Line at (888) 724-7240 to receive FREE assistance 7 days a week/ 24 hours a day.

Fire up Your Feet Month” is October 2014. Thirty years ago, 60% of children living within a 2-mile radius of a school walked or bicycled to school. Today, that number has dropped to less than 15%. Roughly 25% commute by school bus, and well over half are driven to or from school in vehicles. And back then, 5% of children between the ages of 6 and 11 were considered to be overweight or obese. Today, that number has climbed to 20%. . Create walking and biking programs for your school community using information from national Bike and Walk to School websites.

School Open Campaign – Drive Carefully. Over the last decade, more than one-fourth of child pedestrian fatalities have occurred between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. The Automobile Association of Southern California (AAA)’s ‘School Open Campaign – Drive Carefully’ campaign offers free resources which can be ordered online at, and includes posters, bumper stickers and bookmarks.

There is a countywide movement to add E Cigarette/Vape Pen to the cities’ and county’s smokefree policies including the County and Carlsbad, Del Mar, El Cajon, Encinitas, La Mesa, Oceanside, Poway, Solana Beach, Vista and Public venues – San Diego County Fair, Petco Park, Zoo and Safari Park, North County Transit and Metropolitan Transit.

Cigarette Smoking Among High School Students at Lowest Level in 22 Years. CDC’s Division of Adolescent and School Health (DASH) released the 2013 national, state, and local Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) results: cigarette smoking rates among high school students have dropped to the lowest levels since the National Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) began in 1991 – 15.7 percent. Despite this progress, reducing overall tobacco use remains a significant challenge. For example, other national surveys show increases in hookah and e-cigarette use.

Exemptions in California law mean that 1 in 7 workers are still being exposed to secondhand smoke in the workplace. California law allows smoking in:

  • Hotels/Motels: Smoking is allowed in 65% of guest rooms, up to 50% of lobbies, and in banquet and meeting rooms when food is not present.
  • Health Care Facilities: Employee smoking is allowed in patient smoking areas of long-term healthcare facilities.
  • Warehouses: Smoking is allowed in warehouses with at least 100,000 square feet and 20 or fewer full-time employees.
  • Vehicle Smoking: is allowed in cabs of motor truck or truck tractors if nonsmoking employees are not present.
  • Private Residence employees: Smoking is allowed in private residences licensed as family day care homes after hours of operation and in areas where children are not present.
  • Small Businesses: Smoking is allowed in small businesses with five or fewer employees. 56.4% of California businesses are small businesses.

“The connection between the health of the nation and the dwelling of the population is one of the most important that exists” – Florence Nightingale. Between 20 and 30 percent of asthma cases are linked to home environmental conditions. About 21,000 lung cancer deaths result from radon in homes. Over 24 million homes that have lead-based paint hazards put children at risk of the irreversible neurologic effects of childhood lead poisoning. In addition, home injuries are the leading causes of death for young children and put six million adults over 65 in hospitals and nursing homes due to falls that are too often preventable. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan reported recently “While we have made great strides in improving the quality of housing nationwide, however 35 million (or 40 percent) of metropolitan homes in the U.S. have one or more health and safety hazards.


AB 230 (Maienschein) Background checks for Youth Athletic Programs – This bill would require a community youth athletic program to provide written notice to the parent or guardian of a youth participating in the program regarding the program’s policies relating to criminal background checks for volunteer and hired coaches in the program.

AB 1014 (Skinner) Gun violence restraining orders – This bill allows family members of someone who is displaying signs of mental instability to request a court order temporarily barring gun use and purchase. Family members are often the first to spot the warning signs when someone is in crisis.

AB 1522 (Gonzalez) Paid Sick Leave – The bill would let workers accrue hours towards days off at a rate of no less than one hour for every 30 hours, allowing employers to cap the total at three/year, and would not affect employers who already offer sick days. Employees allowed to use accrued sick days beginning on 90th day of employment.

AB 1819 (Hall) Smokefree Home Day Care – This bill would expand the current smoking prohibition in family day care homes to prohibit smoking at all times.

AB 2127 (Cooley) Limits on Football Practice – This bill would prohibit full-contact football practices in the off-season, limit the amount of ‘full-contact’ practice teams may hold during the pre-season and regular season to two (per week, not to exceed 90 minutes in any single day, institutes a supervised return-to-play protocol for athletes who have suffered a concussion or brain injury. Drills that result in contact that are intended to teach proper tackling technique, but do not involve collisions or activity typical of an actual football game are not considered ‘full-contact’.

SB 270 (Padilla, de León, and Lara) Single Use Grocery Bags – This bill banned grocery bags making California the first U.S. state to officially prohibit stores from handing them out for free. The ban is a victory for environmentalists who say the 13 million plastic bags that are handed out each year in the state end up in waterways and landfills where they don’t break down for decades. The new law goes into effect for large grocery chains and pharmacies beginning July 1, 2015. It will extend to convenience stores and liquor stores July 1, 2016. Under the law, stores will be required to offer customers recycled paper bags or bags made of compostable material at a cost of at least 10 cents. Consumers buying groceries using California’s food-assistance program won’t have to pay for bags. The law also provides $2 million in state-backed loans to help businesses transition to reusable bags.

SB 850 (Block) Postsecondary education – This bill permits California community colleges to offer four-year bachelor’s degrees.

SB 1252 (Torres) Foster care students – This bill allows counties to extend housing to foster youth up to age 25 for up to three years if they are pursuing a college degree. The current eligibility cutoff age is 24 for up to two years. The Stuart Foundation, a San Francisco-based trust dedicated to the development of children and youth, found that 70 percent of foster children expressed interest in attending college but only 10 percent enroll. Just a projected 3 percent would graduate with a degree.

California State PTA Resources

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