While many of the behavioral and mental health challenges that Coachella Valley residents face today were present before the onset of COVID-19 in 2020, public health leaders and providers have seen these issues compounded by the isolation, uncertainty and anxiety that accompanied the pandemic.
Our response as a healthcare district in 2021 was to include proactively expanding access to behavioral/mental health services as Goal 3 in our new, Board-approved, five-year Strategic Plan. Though the plan is primarily based on a comprehensive community health needs assessment the District commissioned, this particular goal is in alignment with work the District was already doing.
The District launched a $2 million behavioral health initiative in 2018 and conducted a community behavioral health needs assessment the following year. Also in 2021, we hired Jana Trew as senior program officer - behavioral health. She brings a wealth of invaluable experience to the role, including more than a decade with an emphasis on behavioral health support services in Southern California.
Since joining the District, Jana has coordinated a regional, collective effort with nonprofit and agency partners to develop a behavioral/mental health improvement plan. She's managing a multipronged process that includes an advisory committee and five working groups whose focus ranges from education and stigma reduction to professional development. I am excited by this collaboration and look forward to sharing with our community soon the results of all the great work its doing to address our behavioral/mental health needs.