New Behavioral Wellness and County Schools Partnership Receives $4M in Grant for Increasing Access to Youth Mental Health Services

(Santa Barbara, CA – July 29, 2020) -  The Santa Barbara County Department of Behavioral Wellness (Behavioral Wellness), the Santa Barbara County Education Office (SBCEO), and the county’s 20 school districts have been awarded a $4 million, four-year grant funded by the Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission (MHSOAC). Behavioral Wellness, SBCEO, and public schools serving students from transitional kindergarten through 12th grade will partner to increase access to youth mental health services in education.  This grant focuses on crisis services for children and youth with a specific focus on underserved populations, including students identifying as LGBTQ+, students who have been suspended or expelled, and foster youth. 

“Mental health is one of the most critical areas we can support, particularly during this pandemic, and we are so grateful for these funds to serve youth, families, and educators over the next four years,” said Susan C. Salcido, Ed.D., Santa Barbara County Superintendent of Schools.  “This grant will provide new opportunities for our county’s students and their families to navigate and engage in mental health services through Behavioral Wellness and community organizations.”

Partnering together, Behavioral Wellness and SBCEO will be planning with schools and community partners in the coming weeks to use the grant funding effectively.  The team’s approach includes navigators and clinicians to support students and families working through a complex system of services. Clinicians will also facilitate support groups based on student needs in areas such as grief and trauma.  Additionally, educators and school staff will receive training on Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) through this funding opportunity.  

“Behavioral Wellness is excited to partner with the education community to better meet the needs of students and their families.  This newly established partnership will help with early identification and linkage to specialty mental health services for youth who need this most,” said Alice Gleghorn, Ph.D., Director for the Department of Behavioral Wellness. “The unique mental health needs for students and families related to the pandemic is recognized as significant as we enter the coming school year,” stated Gleghorn.

Forty counties applied for this grant, and Santa Barbara County was one of eight counties that received funding for new or emerging partnerships. 

The application team included representatives from Behavioral Wellness, SBCEO, YouthWell, and the Mental Wellness Center.  Behavioral Wellness will be taking this funding award to the Board of Supervisors as soon as it can be agendized.