New wellness center is well under way to open spring of 2020


LA Schools

The new wellness center is expected to open in the spring of 2020.

Alexis Gutierrez

The construction of a new School Mental Health Clinic has sparked concern about its impact on the traffic near the surrounding schools.

The school mental health clinic, located between Daniel Pearl Magnet High School (DPMHS) and Lake Balboa College Preparatory Magnet, has provided services for students prior to DPMHS being established in 2009. The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) authorized an expansion of the Balboa Boulevard mental health clinic in 2014 and construction will start this month.

The current clinic will be demolished and rebuilt in order to be improved upon as part of the goals for LAUSD’s Wellness Center 2.0 program. This project focuses on providing mental health services, dental services and physical health services to students and their families.

“They work with students, families and school communities to build on existing strengths and skills that assist in navigating life’s challenges and its stressors,” Program Coordinator Lorrie Munoz said in an email.

Under the program, LAUSD set aside $50 million from bonds for the expansion of school-based clinics and wellness centers. Once geographic areas of need were identified, 11 sites were chosen and were integrated into the Wellness Center 2.0 project.

The project will build a new mental health center building and work on site improvements such as outdoor parking and waiting areas. These services will be provided by LAUSD’s department of Student Health and Human Services.

Construction for the new clinic will attempt to accommodate the needs of the surrounding schools by taking steps to minimize the noise and traffic it is likely to bring.  While the current clinic will remain open, students and faculty will not be permitted to use its parking lot despite the lot having been used for around a decade as a drop-off area for the surrounding schools.

To ensure that everyday business continues smoothly, workers will be wearing identification badges and material deliveries will be coordinated for special times so that it doesn’t interfere with school drop-offs and pick-ups before and after school. Additionally, mufflers will be used on loud machinery to lessen the noise and sound blankets will be installed around the entire area. During testing, construction will cease so as to not affect student’s focus.

In order to properly work alongside schools with minimal disruption, the program’s project manager will be in communication with Principal Deb Smith and other principals from the surrounding schools to address any concerns or issues in relation to the construction.

Other mental health centers that are a part of the program work in a partnership with the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health to provide mental health services to families and people in the community. However, these services for the Balboa Boulevard center will only be available to those of LAUSD students and families.

“They provide really important services for students in L.A. Unified and their families,” Principal Deb Smith said. “Without those services, I think that there are a lot of kids and families that would not get the kinds of care and treatment that they need.”

Construction is expected to be completed in spring 2020.