John F. Kennedy University Counseling Center: East Contra Costa Mental Health Initiative

Lack of access to affordable mental and behavioral health services is a nationwide concern. According to two recent community healthy assessments, it is a particularly acute concern in East Contra Costa County.

That’s why in August 2015, the Community Health Fund (CHF) provided a $20,000 planning grant to John F. Kennedy University Counseling Center (JFKU), Brighter Beginnings, St. Vincent de Paul of Contra Costa and Los Medanos College Nursing Program to work in partnership with Emerald HPC International, LLC and develop a business plan for a multiyear health initiative. The initiative would increase access to and utilization of mental health services for low-income, uninsured or under-insured residents of East Contra Costa County.

In Phase I, the CHF provided an $187,000 grant for JFKU to expand its Counseling Center program into East Contra Costa County while also serving as a referral resource for community based clinics and organizations. At the Counseling Center – which had already established services at four Antioch high schools – advanced graduate students provide counseling under the supervision of licensed, professional psychotherapists. In May 2017, JFKU reported that it had achieved all Phase I goals, including:

  • Creation of a comprehensive client intake process.
  • Hiring of an East Contra Costa program coordinator and administrative assistant..
  • Provision of school-based counseling services in Pittsburg and Antioch schools and at the Pittsburg and Brentwood campuses of Los Medanos College..
  • Piloting of a counseling program for seniors in partnership with Meals on Wheels and Senior Outreach Services (MOWSOS)..
  • In partnership with Pittsburg Unified School District, expansion of the Family Resiliency Project, a therapy program that targets the entire family of youths (ages 11-18 years) identified as being at-risk..
  • Development of partnerships with local organizations that can provide ancillary support services..
  • Development of an evaluation plan in partnership with the CHF and Harder+Company Community Research..

In August 2017, JFKU received a $177,000 grant that will allow the organization to implement Phase II of its plan, which aims to increase the number of service delivery sites and programs in East Contra Costa County and build a pathway to sustainability. JFKU will:

  • Hire a Counseling Center clinic manager..
  • Add an in-home service delivery component to its Family Resiliency Project..
  • Train 6-8 counselors in a trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy model and launch programs rooted in the model in the Pittsburg, Antioch and Brentwood school districts..
  • Retool senior-focused services in Brentwood and Oakley through a partnership with MOWSOS..
  • Partner with La Clínica de La Raza’s Oakley clinic to implement a counselor-in-training internship program..
  • Develop a formal partnership with Village Community Resource Center, which provides access to resources and services aimed at improving neighborhood conditions for families in Brentwood and surrounding communities.
  • Create a Counseling Center Advisory Council to connect programs, staff and interns to the community and support community-based resource development..
  • Build a pathway to sustainability through JFKU’s recent approval as a Medi-Cal provider and ongoing work to develop contracts with private insurers and the Contra Costa Health Plan..