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County of SB Seeks Community Input on Mental Health Support Services Needs to Address Pandemic Impacts

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. In order to ascertain and respond to needs locally, the County of Santa Barbara, in partnership with community mental health and wellness partners and stakeholders, is seeking input to help determine mental health and substance use disorder services to meet the needs of our community.

The whole 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 at and Spanish at and on the County’s website at The survey will also be conducted in the field by service providers for populations less likely to have access to an electronic survey.

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 our overall community.

“Isolation, quarantine, remote learning, business impacts and physical distancing has impacted everyone; some more than others,” said Suzanne Grimmesey, MFT, PIO/Chief Quality Care and Strategy Officer for the County of Santa Barbara 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 County 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. The survey includes questions from the 2019 Cottage Health Population Health Survey, and from previous children’s mental health surveys.

Data from this survey 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.

For more information about the process and recovery plan, the public may contact Suzanne Grimmesey at