Contra Costa County Office of Education Receives Grant to Support Mental Health Services

Capriccia Thomas, Health Editor

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has shed light on the struggles and issues concerning mental and behavioral health. One of the hardest-hit institutions following the epidemic was the educational system. The transition from in-person learning to complete virtual education was challenging for many students, families, and academic faculty and staff.

To mitigate the growing concern, the Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission awarded a four-year 6 million dollar to the Contra Costa County Office of Education in partnership with the Contra Costa County Behavioral Services to expand mental health services to students and their families. The grant will implement programs to ensure mental health services are provided to students and their families in Contra Costa County, with over 18 districts, including 185 schools.

The county will implement these services in three tiers. “First-tier is the baseline preventive behavioral training and technical assistance. Secondly, a moderate parent and caregiver support and support groups for students. Thirdly, an intensive care initiative where high-risk students are identified and provided one-one-support and direct mental health services will be given to students, parents, and caregivers in schools that require more need,” stated Marcus Walton, Director of Communication and Special Projects, Contra Costa County Office of Education.

The grant will support Contra Costa County schools over the course of four years ending in 2025. The county is committed to helping students and families. “Once the grant concludes, the county will continue funding the districts to ensure mental health services are being provided,” continued Watson.

Health and well-being are a significant part of the learning process. Access to mental health services will support the students and their families throughout the county. It serves as a beacon for teachers, facilitators, students, and families, a collective sense that we’re all in this together.

The shared experiences will allow the schools within the district to build a stronger community. “We believe there will be an increased understanding of how to access mental health services, foster an appreciation for the importance of mental health and wellness, increase communication and collaboration between behavioral health and the County Office of Education and school districts,” concluded Walton.

Contra Costa County will use the grant funds to establish the Wellness In Schools Program. The program will be led by liaisons, working with each county providing technical assistance and support. WISP will serve as a link for students to promptly access behavioral and mental health services. Furthermore, it seeks to build awareness and support students and their families/caregivers throughout the county.