Globally and nationally, the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively affected many people’s mental health and created new challenges for people already suffering from mental illness and substance use disorders.

Santa Barbara County, jointly with community mental health and wellness partners and stakeholders, is seeking comments from the public to help determine what mental health and substance use disorder services the community needs.
The entire community is invited to respond to a short 10- to 15-minute survey during September. Data gathered through the survey will be used to identify and tailor services to meet the needs of community members.

The survey is available electronically in English and Spanish, and on the county’s website, The survey will also be conducted in the field by service providers for populations less likely to have access to an electronic version.
In June, the county Board of Supervisors authorized the use of federal ARPA funding (American Rescue Plan Act) to expedite an assessment of mental health needs resulting from COVID-19, and to develop a plan to initiate identified priority services in conjunction with partners to promote recovery and resiliency in individuals and the overall community.

“Isolation, quarantine, remote learning, business impacts and physical distancing has impacted everyone; some more than others,” said Suzanne Grimmesey, chief quality care and strategy officer for the county Department of Behavioral Wellness. “It is critical that necessary supports to address the unique impacts of COVID-19 are in place in a timely manner to help our community through recovery.

“We could not be more appreciative of the county Board of Supervisors for recognizing a need to address whole-community mental health and supporting this collaborative effort.”

The process is being led by the Department of Behavioral Wellness and the Community Wellness Team, along with a broad stakeholder group that provided input on the assessment processes including key populations and targeted outreach strategies.

The survey was developed with assistance from mental health experts from UCSB to assure efficacy. It includes questions from the 2019 Cottage Health Population Health Survey, and from previous children’s mental health surveys.

Survey data will be reviewed and compared against previous surveys. A separate survey designed to assess the impact of the pandemic on children ages 0-5 is under development, and will be sent out at a later date. Collaborative community partners include:

Community Wellness Team Members:
American Red Cross, Santa Barbara County Department of Behavioral Wellness, Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department, Behavioral Sciences Unit Cottage Health, Hospice of Santa Barbara, Institute for Collective Trauma and Growth, Jewish Foundation of Santa Barbara, Mental Wellness Center, Santa Barbara County Psychological Association, Santa Barbara Foundation, Santa Barbara Response Network, Santa Barbara Unified School District.

Countywide Mental Health and Alcohol and Drug Advocates and Providers:
Bowers Foundation, CALM, Casa De La Raza, Casa Pacifica, CenCal Health, Community Health Centers of the Central Coast, Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse (CADA), Santa Barbara County Department of Social Services, Dignity Health CA, Central Coast Family Service Agency, Health Linkages/Santa Barbara County Promotores Network, Lompoc Valley Community Healthcare Organization – Healthy Lompoc Coalition, Planned Parenthood, California Central Coast, Romo and Associates, Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, Santa Barbara County Education Office, Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics, Santa Barbara Unified School District, Transitions Mental Health Association, UCSB.