Tipping Point Mental Health Initiative
Mother and son, Compass Family Services, 2012
Community Partner: Tipping Point Community
University Partner: Child Trauma Research Program
People living in poverty are more likely to be exposed to stresses like violence and trauma, and they have less access to healthy foods and good medical care. Challenges with mental health can make it harder to keep steady work, afford treatment, and overcome feelings of shame and isolation. Despite long waitlists at Tipping Point–supported clinics, family resource centers and schools all over the Bay Area, several consecutive years of statewide budget cuts continue to threaten mental health services for those who need them most.
“The goal of the Mental Health Initiative is to provide direct mental health services to families in need as well as empower agency staff with tools to support them,” said Miriam Hernandez Dimmler, Ph.D., of the Child Trauma Research Program at UCSF, an internationally renowned leader in the field of early childhood trauma and Tipping Point partner since 2008. By placing 12 clinicians diverse in language, ethnicity and expertise, the Mental Health Initiative has provided nearly 450 families with evidence-based psychotherapy for caregivers and children under age six at grantee sites across the Bay Area. Last year, the percentage of caregivers with signs of severe depression decreased by more than half over the course of treatment, while the percentage of parents reporting significant stress went down by over two-thirds. Group therapy around issues like motherhood and community violence is also available to clients. With strong results to date, the initiative will expand in partnership with Child Adolescent Services at UCSF to serve families with older youth over the next year.
To date, the initiative has trained over 380 staff members from over 30 Tipping Point grantees on topics ranging from detecting and reporting child abuse to motivational interviewing. Consultations with mental health experts, tailored to meet the needs of individual agencies, are also made possible through the initiative. “Miriam’s session at the staff retreat opened a dialogue and got our whole team thinking about the services we are providing and how the work affects us,” Natalie Tercero, the Single Stop Site Coordinator at JobTrain in East Menlo Park, said. “By better understanding our clients’ mental health and our own needs as frontline providers, we can drastically improve the support we offer and make our employment services that much more effective.”