A coalition of government and private philanthropy took a step toward solving the region’s mental health workforce shortage on Tuesday with the unanimous approval of a $3.5 million project that aims to train a large range of mental health workers.
Price Charities, long known for its work on mental health issues, has pledged $2.5 million for a five-year pilot project, supporting Interfaith Community Services of Escondido, an organization that helps people through difficult times of life since 1979. Another $1 million will come from county coffers.
Interfaith served nearly 20,000 people last year, according to its latest annual report. The organization also runs a recovery care centre, providing a crucial landing point after inpatient mental health treatment.
It’s that kind of ‘shrink’ capacity that recent reports have said the region badly needs, though a breakdown released this summer estimates San Diego County will need to recruit, train and retain more than 18,000 workers. to expand existing capacity. levels of mental health care.
Although Interfaith is widely known for its broad goal of helping people change their lives through a holistic approach to a wide range of services, including addiction treatment, housing and job training, care mental health have become a growing need, the chief executive said. Greg Anglea.
“Behavioral Health Services and Behavioral Health Service Providers are involved in all of our programs and are an essential part of the care and support provided by Interfaith,” Anglea said.
The grant will help Interfaith work with North County colleges to develop programs that allow students to earn the hours of work experience required by working in interfaith programs. The first initiatives, which will begin next year, aim to help case managers who already have a bachelor’s degree to obtain a master’s degree in social work.
Work has already begun, he said, with Cal State San Marcos on a bespoke master’s degree program while talks progress on the curriculum for a registered and certified substance abuse counselor program with the Palomar. Middle School.
The five years of seed capital from Price and County, Anglea pointed out, will not only be used to hire educators, but also to provide stipends and other types of financial assistance to students who cannot afford to leave the labor market in order to work on a degree.
The focus will be on those who come from communities disproportionately affected by lack of access to healthcare resources, he said.
“Especially when you look at graduate school, like a master’s in social work program, almost all of them require individuals to leave their jobs and complete the program full-time,” Anglea said. “We envision hybrid models through this center of excellence to help people choose to continue working and continuing to provide services while reducing the costs of educational programs.
In its first five years of operation, Anglea said, the center of excellence is expected to train 284 behavioral health specialists.
Interfaith is in a key position to participate because its work with disadvantaged North County residents provides many opportunities for real-world internships that are required by state licensing programs.
Jennette Shay, vice president of grants at Price, said there was already an ongoing discussion with Interfaith before the county released its workforce study this summer on training more workers in mental health to better serve its existing and future clients.
“They really need to train their current staff who are already committed to working with this population, but who may not have the skills or finances to get the training they need to take them to the next level, and so everything just seems like a perfect fit,” Shay said.
Price has an existing partnership with UC San Diego which has already established a Nurse Practitioner Fellowship Program to train child and adolescent specialists and a Master of Social Work Fellowship Program with the University of San Diego State for those who live or work in the City Heights neighborhood of San Diego.
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