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 John Muir/Mt. Diablo Community Health Fund (CHF) provided a $20,000 planning grant to John F. Kennedy University Counseling Center (JFKU), Brighter BeginningsSt. Vincent de Paul of Contra Costa and Los Medanos College Nursing Program to work in partnership with Emerald HPC International, LLC. The partnership developed a business plan for a multiyear health initiative aimed at increasing access to and utilization of mental health services for low-income, un-insured or under-insured residents of East Contra Costa County.

The first step in that two-year plan is to have JFKU 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 has already established services at four Antioch high schools – advanced graduate students provide counseling under the supervision of licensed, professional psychotherapists. To help JFKU expand its services, this year the CHF awarded an $187,000 grant to implement the first year of the plan. 

In 2016, JFKU expects to provide increased access to quality, affordable mental and behavioral health services for 200 clients. It will:

  • Develop a comprehensive client intake process that is welcoming to a diversity of clients and low-income residents in the region.
  • Identify, hire and train a supervisor/project coordinator.
  • Identify and train student interns who will serve clients.
  • Initiate delivery of counseling services in March 2016 at the Antioch Community Center.
  • Launch a counseling program for seniors in partnership with Meals on Wheels and Senior Outreach Services, the Antioch Senior Center and the Nick Rodriguez Community Center.
  • Expand the Family Resiliency Project, a therapy program that targets the entire family of youths (ages 11-18 years) identified as being at-risk.
  • Develop an evaluation plan in partnership with the CHF.
  • Develop partnerships with local organizations that can provide ancillary support services.
  • Begin developing a long-term sustainability plan.