Desert Sands Unified School District Adds New Mental Health Training For Faculty Members


The nation is still in shock of the recent mass shootings that happened just a little over a week ago and now, the Coachella Valley school districts are doing something to potentially prevent another.

As it stands, teachers and faculty across the valley want to do more. More to help students cope with what’s going on at home. More to help them feel safe and understood. More to prevent school shootings; and the Desert Sands Unified School District is helping them do just that with a new training for mental health.

Trina Gonzales-Alesi, the President of the Desert Sands Teachers’ Association, says it’s about time mental health is addressed.

“Mental health is definitely real. We as teachers are recognizing that our students are coming to school with a lot of baggage and a lot of things that they have to deal with in their outside lives,” Trina told NBC Palm Springs.

After recognizing the aforementioned, the Desert Sands Unified School District decided to introduce Trauma Informed Practices Training, to their entire staff, in order to help teachers, counselors, and other faculty alike be able to identify red flags.

“Teachers as the first line students encounter when the come to school…they need to be able to engage the students, approach them, recognize signs,” added Trina.

With this training, tangible changes are being made in the Coachella Valley for what used to be a taboo topic: mental health.

“We realize that children are coming to school with more and more issues…not only with the violence that is happening in the community with the shootings and things like that, but also immigration and deportation. Students are afraid that when they go home, their parents aren’t going to be there.”

Thus, it is for these reasons that, according to Trina, this training is so important.

“Students can learn when they have all these preoccupations. They have to be engaged at their level and we have to recognize at some point what they are going through in order to get them to learn.”

The President of the Desert Sands Teachers’ Association also says, having this training under their belt, they will surely be able to save lives.

“I do think that it’s going to help save lives. When students feel safe, and accepted, and understood, they are going to be able to learn which means that they will get an education, which will lead them to a better life.”

The first part of the Trauma Informed Practices Training with the Desert Sands Unified School District will take place next week, and by January, all school staff will have gone through the last phase of this mental health program. 

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