Humboldt and Mendocino counties receive $2.5 million in State Mental Health funding to expand public school program

Innovative collaboration between county mental health departments and school districts will improve the lives of countless students

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Sacramento, CA – Millions of dollars in critical mental health funding will flow into both Humboldt and Mendocino counties from a state Mental Health Services Act grant fund established last year by the legislature. 
$5 million was recently approved by the Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission for both Mendocino and Humboldt counties ($2.5 million each) to build on their partnerships with schools to address mental illness among children and teens. 
“Nearly one in six young people experience a mental health disorder each year and we know the Coronavirus has made life even more challenging for these amazing kids. These grant funds will be put to good use and will help improve the lives of countless students by expanding programming and positions providing kids with the support they need to thrive. This funding couldn’t have come at a more critical time,” Senator Mike McGuire said. 

The 4-year grants that have an anticipated start date of fall 2020 were awarded to address goals regarding mental illness including, but not limited to; expanded counseling services at schools sites, expanded peer counseling, suicide prevention programming, enhanced family support for low income students and homeless students, stigma and dropout prevention and so much more. 

 Humboldt and Mendocino counties were the only two jurisdictions from the state to receive the grant in the rural county category. 
“The Mental Health Student Services Act grant brings an exciting opportunity to increase connections between students and families and mental health support services in the school setting. With the COVID pandemic, we are having to think outside the box and have the opportunity to grow as a team in creating support services around an online school setting. We are encouraged that this will allow our community agencies and schools to build support networks and a community of education and health amid our current pandemic,” said Jenine Miller, Mendocino County Behavioral Health Director.
In Humboldt County, the additional funding will be used to expand its Bridges to Success program which is a partnership between the county office of education, the department of public health, and the department of health and human services. Launched over a year ago, the program provides crisis response and stabilization for youth throughout the schools. The additional grant funding from the state will create new regional navigator positions and staff to expand the program.
“The $2.5 million in OAC funds Humboldt County is receiving is a very welcomed addition to funds we have already received to serve children and families in partnership with our local schools. It will allow us to expand the crisis triage/crisis prevention services to students and families we initiated through previous grant funding at a time when we are seeing increasing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. During the previous school year we received 335 referrals for these types of services, with more than 100 additional walk-in requests. We anticipate this need continuing and likely growing, so now is the perfect time to be strengthening the supports and systems in place for this population,” said Humboldt County Behavioral Health Director Emi Botzler-Rodgers, LMFT.