Santa Clara County Supervisors Vote to Support More Youth Mental Health Services | New
As the new school year approaches, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved two ordinances aimed at better improving mental health services for children and young adults, both in schools and moving.
First, county officials voted to seek more state funding to expand a mental health wellness center program in elementary, middle and high schools.
Currently, 12 elementary, middle, and high schools in Santa Clara County have dedicated wellness centers for students to relax, talk to a safe adult, and seek mental health treatment resources.
After receiving the go-ahead, the county’s Department of Behavioral Health Services will apply for a $1.6 million state grant that would increase staffing capacity on campuses. More mental health experts on campus would provide students who have ‘mild to moderate needs’ with emotional support, re-engagement with school after absences and prompt outreach to mental health providers if needed, according to the grant element.
The second item allocates an additional $500,000 to fund the County Mental Health Clinic Mobile Services slated to operate in October from the Department of Behavioral Health Services budget.
Santa Clara County partnered with two nonprofit mental health providers in July to create a crisis response team on wheels, equipped with licensed professionals who can assess and defuse people facing mental health problems.
The hope is to leave mental health care to clinicians, rather than the police, and reduce unnecessary hospitalizations, prison admissions and the use of force in times of crisis.
With the funds, the mobile clinic team will receive more equipment and four new full-time mental health specialists to better reach the county’s 16 to 24-year-olds – otherwise known as “transition-age youth”. .
Once fully operational, residents of Palo Alto, Mountain View, Santa Clara and other major cities in the county can call the new national suicide prevention hotline, 988, and be directed to county services. . The nonprofit Pacific partner clinics will assess the level of emergency over the phone and dispatch a mobile crisis van for in-person assistance if needed. Mental health provider Momentum for Health can transport a resident in need to stabilization services, if needed as well.
“Mental health services are more important than ever to our youth in Santa Clara County and the key is early intervention. This state funding will allow us to provide prevention and early intervention services to prevent mental illnesses only become serious and disabling in children and youth,” supervisor Cindy Chavez said in a statement after the meeting.
Chavez said the county had seen an increase in depression, anxiety and suicidal ideation among young people even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
“These kinds of resources allow us, as a community, to partner with schools, healthcare clinics and non-profit organizations to make sure we get kids to the services they need” , Chavez said.
She admitted that the “very tight job market” in the mental health sector will pose a challenge, especially in a place with such a high cost of living. Chavez said health care providers need to pay their clinicians well, so mental health workers of this generation and the next feel comfortable staying here.
“What it will take is not just more funding, but also all of our institutions that need clinicians to work closely with schools, so that these programs are not impacted,” Chavez said. “And even working with secondary schools, so we can help young people understand that they have the opportunity to have a career here and that we can pay them fairly to do so.”