The Needs and Joys of our (Im)migrant* Students, Families and Community Partners: Exploring and Expanding our School Mental Health Practice

March 14, 2021

“Do work that matters. Vale la pena”

Gloria E. Anzaldúa


Join the Pacific Southwest Mental Health Technology Transfer Center for a special three-part series followed by a four-part learning community focused on (im)migrant student mental health. Through this program, we hope to: 

  • Deepen our understanding and awareness of the unique gifts, strengths, and challenges students with (im)migration stories hold

  • Explore practical strategies to apply and deepen our work 

  • Examine the What + Howwhat are the issues + how do we then take the what and impact our school mental health practice?


Together, we discuss and unpack nuances of students who are (im)migrants, newcomers, undocumented, transborder learners so that we can strengthen our school mental health systems, services, practices, and policies. 


Please note that while this program has a special focus on students who identify as Latino/a/x,  Chican@, and Mexican-American, all are welcome and much can be related to other student identities with shared experiences. 


Invited learners: school mental health professional associations (school psychology, counselors, psychiatry, teacher education programs, school social workers), community-based mental health providers who partner with schools in our Center’s region (Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, and U.S. Pacific Islands of American Samoa, Guam, Marshall Islands, Northern Mariana Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, and Palau). 


Continued Education

For each session offered in the first part (April, May, and June), 2.0 CEU's available upon verification of attendance.


Priming Resources



Three-Part Learning Series

Session 1: What is the what? Nuances, complications, and contributions of (Im)migrant & Latinx student mental health 


When:  Monday, April 19, 3-5 p.m. PT (view your time zone)

(Mon.) 6-8 p.m. ET / 3-5 p.m. PT / 12-2 p.m. HT / 11 a.m.-1 p.m. American Samoa

(Tues.) 10 a.m.-12 p.m. Marshall Islands / 9-11 a.m. Pohnpei, Kosrae / 8-10 a.m. Guam, Chuuk, Yap, Northern Mariana Islands /  7-9 a.m. Palau

Faculty: Angela Castellanos, Claudia Rojas, Alicia Arambula, & Claudia Gonzalez 


Our opening session features all four faculty providing an introduction to core concepts and issues that impact (Im)migrant and Latinx student mental health. Together, we discuss the concepts of triple trauma (leaving, migration, arrival); microaggressions + bias and racism; COVID-19 nuances to service delivery; and the strengths and joys of (im)migrant student mental health. 


To create awareness about (im)migrant student experiences, we: 

  1. Learn how stress, anxiety, and trauma impact (im)migrant students.

  2. Define the policies that impact our families and students (e.g., TPS, McKinney-Vento, DACA, U-Visas, Public Charge, Deportations, and AB2121).

  3. Explore how status affects students, families, and schools. 




Session 2: Fronterismo - Supporting Transborder School Mental Health 


When: Monday, May 17, 3-5 p.m. PT (view your time zone)

(Mon.) 6-8 p.m. ET / 3-5 p.m. PT / 12-2 p.m. HT / 11 a.m.-1 p.m. American Samoa

(Tues.) 10 a.m.-12 p.m. Marshall Islands / 9-11 a.m. Pohnpei, Kosrae / 8-10 a.m. Guam, Chuuk, Yap, Northern Mariana Islands /  7-9 a.m. Palau

Faculty: Claudia Gonzalez & Alicia Arambula


The number of transborder studentsstudents that regularly cross land borders to access an education in the United Statesis difficult to capture, but with 1,954 miles of borderland between the United States and Mexico, this number is easily in the thousands. Transborder students, like immigrant children, often live in the shadows. Their lives are complex, and navigating some of the busiest ports of entry in the world while balancing not being seen and at the same time being successful in school, can be tolling. This webinar addresses common school mental health challenges and celebrations of immigrant, mixed status, and transborder students. Together, we explore how to develop environments in schools that are trauma sensitive and reinforce sustainable systems of support via a cultural lens of the transborder and immigrant experience, while taking into consideration the challenges that have been exacerbated through COVID-19 and distance learning.


To deepen our awareness about (im)migrant student experiences, we: 

  1. Become more familiar with transborder student experiences.

  2. Explore the policies that impact our student population and the resources available to support us.

  3. Gain practical information that might increase confidence to provide support to transborder students and their families (including how MTSS might be adapted to border considerations).




Session 3: School Mental Health Strategies to Support Newcomers: CBITS and Community Building Circles 


When: Monday, June 21, 3-5 p.m. PT (view your time zone

(Mon.) 6-8 p.m. ET / 3-5 p.m. PT / 12-2 p.m. HT / 11 a.m.-1 p.m. American Samoa

(Tues.) 10 a.m.-12 p.m. Marshall Islands / 9-11 a.m. Pohnpei, Kosrae / 8-10 a.m. Guam, Chuuk, Yap, Northern Mariana Islands /  7-9 a.m. Palau

Faculty: Claudia Rojas & Angela Castellanos

The plight of newcomers (students who have recently arrived to the United States) continues to be an issue that impacts their educational journey and is even more exacerbated during the pandemic. Students' experiences vary, but they may include feelings of isolation, integration, and adapting to new cultural norms.  This session will highlight a student’s experience and what school systems can offer to support students in traditional and distance learning settings. 

The session examines shared risk and protective factors for vulnerable populations and outlines school programs like CBITS and restorative justice Community Building Circles, highlighting cultural adaptations of both models. 


To deepen our awareness about (im)migrant student experiences, we: 

  1. Build understanding of: the impact of mental health on newcomer students and its relation to their learning, adapting to the American school system, and resources to support their growth.

  2. Explore myths and misconceptions about newcomer students and build empathetic partnerships for their academic and social emotional growth.

  3. Examine the risk factors and increase support systems to enhance protective factors such as CBITS and restorative justice Community Building Circles.





Summer Extended Learning Invitation: Join the Series' Faculty for a "Supporting (Im)migrant School Mental Health Community of Practice"

Open to participants of one, two, or all sessions of the three-part learning series, this community of practice offers us the opportunity to go deeper with our learning. Led by the faculty of the series above (Angela Castellanos, Alicia Arambula, Claudia Rojas, & Claudia Gonzalez), we resource each other and discuss and explore ideas, questions, and teachings of the series, while adding real-life practice stories to work through together.


Let’s get ready for the coming school year together. Join us! Register below to attend one or both sessions.





All Sessions: 

(Mon.) 6-8 p.m. ET / 3-5 p.m. PT / 12-2 p.m. HT / 11 a.m.-1 p.m. American Samoa

(Tues.) 10 a.m.-12 p.m. Marshall Islands / 9-11 a.m. Pohnpei, Kosrae / 8-10 a.m. Guam, Chuuk, Yap, Northern Mariana Islands /  7-9 a.m. Palau




Our Learning Series and Community of Practice Faculty


Woman with long dark hair wearing a light blue topAngela Castellanos, PPSC, LCSW 

Angela J. Castellanos serves as a School Mental Health Training Specialist for the Pacific Southwest MHTTC. Angela Castellanos, LCSW, is an experienced mental health consultant and administrator with 25+ years of diverse and progressive expertise in the mental health care industry and school settings. As a licensed clinical social worker, she specializes in administering school mental health programs; mentoring industry professionals (local, state, and federal); and developing and teaching best practices in the area of Trauma, Suicide Prevention, Crisis Response and Recovery, and School Mental Health. As a direct practitioner, Angela has developed programs and services for newcomers in a school district setting.  Internationally, she has provided trauma based work in El Salvador. 


Woman with shoulder length hair wearing a white shirt in front of a buildingAlicia Arambula, MSW, ASW, PPSC

Alicia Arambula is a Latinx School Social Worker in the south San Diego region. As a School Social Worker, Arambula has developed a mental health program to address youth mental health by providing professional learning opportunities for staff, establishing systems of support utilizing restorative practices and bridging the gap for students to access mental health counseling in or outside of school. Arambula has a Master of Social Work from San Diego State University with a pupil personnel services credential in social work. Arambula has over ten years of experience serving youth and their families in various capacities such as addressing diverse needs including substance dependency, immigration, and education. Arambula is a fronteriza, a hybrid culture that exists within border regions, which directly impacts her theoretical approach in serving her community. 


Woman with shoulder length hair and crossed arms stands wearing a light blue topClaudia Gonzalez, LCSW, PPSC-SW

Claudia Gonzalez is the lead child and adolescent mental health clinician at a Federally Qualified Health Center in South San Diego. She has a Master of Social Work and Pupil Personnel Services Credential from San Diego State University. She has over 10 years of experience working along the U.S.-Mexico border close to her hometown of San Ysidro. Her personal experience and work in the border region have afforded Claudia the opportunity to understand the intersection of the communities social, sexual, and family ties in both countries.




Woman with should length hair and maroon top smilesClaudia Rojas, MA

Claudia Rojas earned her BA in Sociology from UCR, an MA in Education from UCLA, and an Administrative Credential from CSUDH; she has been an educator since 2003 and has always worked at high need schools in Los Angeles. Currently, Claudia serves as a Newcomer Coach and previously she served as a Restorative Justice Teacher Advisor. From 2012-2018, she served as a founding high school principal located in the heart of South Central Los Angeles. The school focused on mental and behavioral health and is a student-centered, teacher-driven school. Claudia is committed to student voice, social justice, equity and access, innovation, and community collaboration.

brown students laughing with backpacks
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