What CBITS Does for Students

Pia Escudero (bio) examines the benefits students derive from participating in the CBITS program.

What I know from what I've seen and I've experienced by observing really the implementation throughout our school district in the last couple years, I think the value of CBITS is many, many...there are many values to it. Number one, as a mental health provider and a director and administrator of a mental health program, I see that it has really built the capacity of our school mental health staff to be very well trained. And build the capacity to deal with serious traumatic situations that many times in the past, when I started my career more than 20 years ago, we were just trying to go to the school and we had a few little handbooks we could buy or trainings or conferences we could attend. But we were really just doing things as we were able to do. But here's an intervention that really breaks down skills -- clinical skills -- and builds skills for students that they can take for a lifetime.

So even though it may seem that they're helping a student with one traumatic event, unfortunately, our children are exposed to multiple traumatic events. Before the intervention, in the middle of intervention many times, and thereafter. But the skills they learn, for students, I think they can take for a lifetime. So one is our clinicians learning how to better treat trauma and how to give those skills to students who will benefit from it, but also for our children to have skills that will take them through their childhood, adolescence, and then into adulthood. I think that the power of having an opportunity to talk about life events that are so traumatic and sometimes could really wound us for a lifetime, and yet have an intervention that teaches you how to talk about it, gives you skills, and gives you sort of tools that you can take on, is such a powerful and healing adventure to take on early on.

It's the fact that you're gaining skills and it's the fact that you're also learning how to get help. Because there's so many events in our lifetime that sometimes they're overwhelming to have an experience that I went to a professional, I got the help I needed, and maybe you can return to get that kind of help. And I think that the beauty of having an intervention in the school site is also something that lessens the taboo about getting help for mental health issues. You know, it's just part of life. Just as you get skills in math and you get skills in reading better, this is another lesson I need to take on so that I can function better and I can take care of my mental health needs as well as my wellbeing. Because nobody has the skills innately and we have to seek them out one way or the other.

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Excerpted from an interview with the contributor in Los Angeles, CA in June, 2010.