Recognizing a passion for helping others

Larry Schallert, Assistant Director of the Student Health & Wellness/ Mental Health Center displays his 2019 Social Worker of the Year award at his desk at College of the Canyons in Valencia on Friday, November 08, 2019. Dan Watson/The Signal
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Whether it’s making sure college students have an attentive ear or raising awareness of community resources so people feel comfortable reaching out, Larry Schallert has made a career out of assisting others.

Recently, a national organization took notice of what many in the Santa Clarita Valley have known for years: Larry’s here to help.

In that capacity, Larry Schallert, whose full-time role is assistant director of COC’s Student Health Center, was recognized as Social Worker of the Year in California by the National Association of Social Workers for 2019.

Schallert’s role at College of the Canyons in the areas of health and wellness covers a number of areas, which reflect the experience he holds from 35 years of working in the field of mental health, a steward in that field on behalf of the college for the last six. 

“Social workers work in the background a lot of the time, and we do not usually get recognized, so it is nice to get the affirmation,” Schallert said. “With the thousands of social workers in California, it is a bit odd to be recognized.” 

In Santa Clarita, Schallert is part of the SCV chapter for NASW, which, after recognizing him with the local award, then nominated him for the statewide nod that he just garnered.

Family roots

For Schallert, helping others was never something he was taught, but instead, something that believed he should just do.

Growing up, Schallert was surrounded by social work. His mother started a program for developmental disabilities, which Schallert volunteered and worked at. The program was inspired by Schallert’s sister, who has Down syndrome. 

Prior to graduate school, Schallert was already heavily involved in helping others. Of all of Schallert’s prior experience, he says that working as a camp counselor was what drew him to pursue social work professionally. The camp helped children and teenagers who were struggling with emotional problems.

“We would work with those kids for two weeks and we would see all kinds of improvement,” said Schallert. “That is when I realized I had some type of natural ability to work with kids.” 

Soon after, Schallert graduated from Sonoma State University with degrees in philosophy and psychology, and later received a master’s degree in social work at the University of Southern California to practice professionally. 

Work in the field

Over the years, Schallert has worked for different mental health services.

From 1999 to 2013, Schallert was the director of program development at the Child & Family Center in the SCV where he was recognized for improving the lives of families and children in the valley. 

However, Schallert said his work at COC represents his proudest accomplishments, he said. 

By having the resources and drive to bring the community together to focus on mental health, Schallert has brought awareness to resources for those who are coping with the loss of loved ones, as well as resources to help others who are experiencing depression and other trauma. 

“We have been able to virtually cut the suicide rate in Santa Clarita in half,” said Schallert, “and we brought our suicide rate at the college to zero for the last couple of years.” 

Schallert attributes these drops in suicide rates to the efforts of the SCV Suicide Prevention, Postvention and Wellness Committee, of which Schallert is chair. 

“(The committee) is a mental health and awareness committee where we work with the city, local providers, local citizens and survivors of suicide,” said Schallert. 

Peer recognition

Schallert really spearheaded the first widespread effort to raise awareness of suicides and the resources to prevent them in Santa Clarita, according to Zee Dankworth, member of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.  

“He has been very influential raising mental health awareness by providing classes, events and getting important people together with his suicide committee,” said Dankworth. 

The SCV Suicide Prevention, Postvention and Wellness Committee grew out of the Blue Ribbon Task Force, a group that provides information and education to the community about peer pressure, teen stress, gangs, sex and making healthy life choices, among others, according to the Blue Ribbon Task Force website. 

Dan Broyles, care pastor at Valencia Hills Community Church, worked alongside Schallert on the Blue Ribbon Task Force. Since then, they have worked together on different task forces, including an effort to fight human trafficking, which occurs everywhere, including the SCV. 

“(Schallert) is someone who is willing to try new things and take risks if it means helping people,” said Broyles. “He thinks outside of the box to provide support for those in need.” 

Schallert, who also enjoys spending time with his wife and adult children when he’s not playing guitar in his acoustic Americana band, Sierra Highway, said his goal is to create lasting programs to support the community. 

“I just hope I am remembered as someone who was open to ideas and had some energy to create new programs,” said Schallert. “If I can make an impact on the health and wellness in the community, I’d feel like we’d done something.”

Mental Health and other resources for the Santa Clarita Valley

College of the Canyons Student Health & Wellness Resource Website

Child & Family Center, Santa Clarita

Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital Behavioral Health Free and Confidential MH Screening Website:

Mental Health America

Mental Health: It’s Part of All Our Lives 1-800- 789-2647

National Child Traumatic Stress Network

National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare

National Institute for Mental Health

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800- 273-TALK

Reachout.com

SAMHSA Site for Coping with Disaster and Traumatic Events:

Santa Clarita City Mental Health Resource Page

SCV Youth Project (661) 257.YOUTH (9688)

Stop Bullying

SRD~Straightening Reins – equine therapy 661-803-1641

ACCESS (DMH Mental Health Hotline) (800)-854- 7771

Asian Pacific Counseling & Treatment Center (818) 267-1100

Child & Family Center, Santa Clarita (Children, Youth and Adults) (661) 259-9439

Child and Family Guidance Center – Northridge (818) 993-9311

College of the Canyons Student Health & Wellness Center (661)-362- 3259

The Center currently helps over 750 children and their families each week. For more informatMental Health and other resources for the Santa Clarita Valley

College of the Canyons Student Health & Wellness Resource Website

Child & Family Center, Santa Clarita

Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital Behavioral Health Free and Confidential MH Screening Website:

Mental Health America

Mental Health: It’s Part of All Our Lives 1-800- 789-2647

National Child Traumatic Stress Network

National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare

National Institute for Mental Health

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800- 273-TALK

Reachout.com

SAMHSA Site for Coping with Disaster and Traumatic Events:

Santa Clarita City Mental Health Resource Page

SCV Youth Project (661) 257.YOUTH (9688)

Stop Bullying

SRD~Straightening Reins – equine therapy 661-803-1641

ACCESS (DMH Mental Health Hotline) (800)-854- 7771

Asian Pacific Counseling & Treatment Center (818) 267-1100

Child & Family Center, Santa Clarita (Children, Youth and Adults) (661) 259-9439

Child and Family Guidance Center – Northridge (818) 993-9311

College of the Canyons Student Health & Wellness Center (661)-362- 3259

The Center currently helps over 750 children and their families each week. For more information, contact the Center at 661-259-9439 or visit www.childfamilycenter.org.

To learn more about emotional health and how to get help or support a loved one, visit jedfoundation.org/help.

ion, contact the Center at 661-259-9439 or visit www.childfamilycenter.org.

To learn more about emotional health and how to get help or support a loved one, visit jedfoundation.org/help.


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