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May 27, 2021

Shot of a young woman having a therapeutic session with a psychologist
  • Research shows the number of adults in the U.S. reporting symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder increased 400% from 2019 to January 2021 
  • The San Diego Workforce Partnership’s program to provide on-the-job training in behavioral health to 25 San Diegans 
  • Free paid health program to prioritize women, refugees and people of color  
  • Supported by a grant from the Public Health Institute  

Children, mothers, communities of color and essential workers are demonstrating an increased need for behavioral health services but are struggling to get their needs met. The pandemic and resulting isolation and job loss has created a crisis in an already strained and under-resourced behavioral health system.  

According to research conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation, the number of adults in the U.S. reporting symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder increased four-fold from 2019 to January 2021. In response to this reality, the San Diego Workforce Partnership is launching this new program to address the increased demand for public mental health services and prepare San Diegans for careers in an industry with high growth potential. 

The Workforce Partnership received a $310,000 grant from Together Toward Health, a program of the Public Health Institute, to fund a new behavioral health job training program. It is part of a statewide initiative to expand workforce development opportunities for Californians most impacted by COVID-19 and amplify outreach efforts to stop the spread of the virus. Workforce Partnership’s newest paid training program is aimed at helping San Diegans launch meaningful careers in behavioral and mental healthcare.   

“Public Health Institute’s generous grant that will help the San Diego Workforce Partnership to equip 25 San Diegans with the knowledge, skills and certifications required to advance and launch careers in behavioral and mental health,” says Peter Callstrom, San Diego Workforce Partnership Chief Executive Officer. “We need to take care of our communities from the inside out and prioritize their social and emotional wellbeing, especially amid the COVID-19 health and economic crisis where many San Diegans are struggling to cope and survive.” 

The grant is in place from now until December 31, 2021. Funding from the grant will provide 120 hours of paid behavioral health and job readiness training, stipends, supportive services and childcare solutions to program participants. Workforce Partnership will prioritize the recruitment of women, refugees, youth, and Black and Latino community members for the paid behavioral health program.  

“We are focused on funding activities that address the inequities exacerbated by COVID,” says Susan Watson, Director of Together Toward Health. “Efforts like this in San Diego reflect both the anticipated ongoing behavioral health needs and our commitment to support workforce development strategies to strengthen local economic resilience within disproportionately impacted communities.” 

People interested in participating can share their interest and be notified when program applications open. 

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