Behavioral Health Connection (The BHC) 

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Tunes Not Trouble
BHS OCE Peer Newsletter
Gayle Uilkema, A New Transitional Housing Program
MHSA Prevention and Early Intervention
Medically Supervised Narcotic Treatment
Mental Health Unveils Photovoice
Homeless Count Results
Youth Breakdance to Make A Difference
Homeless Program Relocates
Homeless Court to Resume
WREACH Speaker's Bureau Reaches Out
Building a Diverse Mental Health Workforce
NAMIWalked! (2013)
Accessing the Mental Health Access Line
The mission of Contra Costa Behavioral Health, in partnership with consumers, families, staff, and community-based agencies, is to provide welcoming, integrated services for mental health, substance abuse, homelessness and other needs that promotes wellness, recovery, and resiliency while respecting the complexity and diversity of the people we serve. 
Contra Costa Behavioral Health envisions a system of care that supports independence, hope, and healthy lives by making accessible behavioral health services that are responsive, integrated, compassionate, and respectful. 



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Do not go where the path may lead, instead go where there is no path and leave a trail.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson 
Cynthia Belon
Cynthia Belon, LCSW Director of Behavioral Health Services




Nearly two years ago, we resolved to make every one of our doors a "right door" for all our services. Our clients deserve a welcoming and responsive system of care that meets their complex needs consistently, and our mission to deliver that system remains unchanged today. But not much else is unchanged in the Behavioral Health Division, thanks to the tireless efforts of our staff in the Mental Health, Alcohol and Other Drugs and Homeless Programs, and to the commitment and involvement of our community partners.  Many hands have shaped our emerging unification, and it has been gratifying to work alongside such dedicated professionals and community members, building a system that makes sense to us and, more importantly, to those we serve. Thank you all. Looking ahead, I see more doors in our future. They belong to our clients and their families within our community.  And they belong to our partners, including the numerous community based organizations upon whom we depend to provide vital services in Contra Costa County, and who depend upon us. In coming months, we will be knocking.


Expect an intensive effort from this office to reach all corners of our community, as we more fully incorporate the experiences of clients and partners into our organizational change. We cannot build a truly responsive care system without their contributions and, for our need, a token meeting to gather feedback will not suffice. We must go to them.

It will take time and effort, but this work is crucial to fulfilling our commitment to creating services that are genuinely helpful and accessible. There are already great examples of such programs, built around what we have already learned about the need for greater integration, access and engagement.


Our Forensic Services team, for example, quickly and smoothly links County probationers with co-occurring disorders to mental health, substance abuse treatment, housing, and benefits. Its efficacy depends upon the close coordination of specialists who might operate independently (and less efficiently) under a different organizational model.


The same principle applies at our soon-to-open, Gayle Uilkema -sober transitional living program in Martinez- where Mental Health, AOD and Homeless Services staff have worked hard to develop an integrated model that will provide clients with the precise help they need to get back on their feet, all under one roof. These programs make so much sense that most people would probably wonder why they are new. With your continued support, participation and patience, I believe we can transform our entire system to seem that way.


As always your feedback is meaningful to me and this entire division. Please continue to provide feedback through the staff suggestion box:  

CB Signiture 2
Cynthia Belon, LCSW 
Behavioral Health Director
Contra Costa County Behavioral Health



Making Tunes Not Trouble

Using Guitar Lessons As an Alternative to Violence and Anti-Social Behavior

April Pearson, Participant of the Guitars Not Guns Program

On April 9, a partnership between the County's Child/Adolescent Mental Health Program and a national organization called Guitars Not Guns culminated in a celebration acknowledging local youth who had completed the organization's course of musical training. The mission of Guitars Not Guns is "to provide guitar lessons to at-risk youth (ages 8-18) as an alternative to violence and anti-social behavior," says Randall Davis, President of the Contra Costa County chapter and a member of the National Executive Board of Guitars Not Guns. "It's a way to get kids socialized in a positive way."


Over the last eight years, Guitars Not Guns has offered guitar lessons for youth throughout the County in partnership with organizations such as the Boys and Girls Club, the Concord Library, Contra Costa Interfaith Housing, STAND! For Families Free of Violence, and the Monument Crisis Center. "We collaborate with organizations to provide a venue for kids and serve kids that are getting services from those organizations," says Davis. The program provides guitars for student use and maintains student confidentiality.


Graduating students received the guitars they used in their lessons as gifts. Davis emphasizes that giving students the chance to learn how to both play and care for their own instrument provides "lessons that will stick with them for a life time." Students such as Courtney Duffy, 13, expressed her appreciation for the program: "I loved that I learned one of my favorite songs, 'Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)'."


For additional photos click the link:Guitars Not Guns - Additional Photos


For more information on Guitars not Guns, including news of upcoming classes, contact:


Peer Perspectives (Special Edition)

The Peer Perspectives Cover 

Contra Costa Behavioral Health's Services, Office for Consumer Empowerment (OCE) is proud to present its second edition of Peer Perspectives, a new quarterly newsletter focusing on wellness and recovery. The newsletter is written by peers, people who have lived behavioral health experience including those overcoming mental illness, co-occurring disorders and homelessness.  Learn more about Photovoice, WREACH, SPIRIT, and other OCE efforts in this newsletter.


For more information or to request a printed copy contact BHS Office of Consumer Empowerment: 



'Gayle Uilkema House', Named In Honor of Former Contra Costa County Board of Supervisor, Gayle Uilkema

Gale Uilkema House, Martinez, CA
Last May 21, 2013 Homeless Program staff, consumers and the Alcohol and Other Drugs Advisory Board and members of the recovery community joined forces in front of the Board of Supervisors to recommend that the new transitional housing be named after the late Gayle Uilkema, a former member of the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors.  The County Homeless program received funding through the State of California Emergency Housing Assistance Program, Department of Housing and Urban Development, and County Health Services Department to support the conversion of the former Discovery House building located on 4639 Pacheco Boulevard in Martinez for sober living, transitional housing for homeless individuals.  Gayle Uilkema House will provide housing for up 12 individuals for up to two years.   In addition, there will be goal-oriented counseling and recovery support to homeless individuals who recently graduated from residential and/or outpatient drug treatment. In this way, these individuals will obtain the skills and resources necessary to maintain sobriety and transition back safely into the community. The Alcohol and Other Drugs Advisory Board made the recommendation to name this transitional housing in recognition of Gayle Uilkema's strong support for alcohol and other drugs recovery efforts within our County. Supervisor Uilkema was a tireless advocate for the needs of residents who suffer from substance use disorders.  


For additional images click here: Gayle Uilkema House - Photos


For more information contact:



A Continuum of Services

  CALMHSA PEI Brochure

With the help of Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) funding, Contra Costa County Behavioral Health Services (CCBHS) has been able to create a continuum of Prevention & Early Intervention (PEI) services. Programs include (but not limited to) a wide range of areas: 

  • supporting underserved cultural communities, 
  • efforts to reduce stigma and discrimination, 
  • supporting youth and their communities affected by violence, 
  • suicide prevention, 
  • family and parenting support, 
  • supporting older adults, and;
  • early intervention to prevent psychosis.

With programming having been in place for 4 years, it is important to take stock and take a look at the accomplishments to see how we delivered on the promise of California Proposition 63. Through CalMHSA efforts, the County's new PEI brochure (see link below) highlights some of BHS Mental Health programs and accomplishments. By viewing the brochure below you can learn about services provided to LGBTQ youth, how BHS Mental Health supports adults in recovery, as well as, hear the voices of some people involved in PEI programs.   


To download or view the new BHS PEI brochure click here: CalMHSA CCBHS PEI Brochure


For more information contact: 


TRAINING CALENDARS                       

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           Social Inclusion Conference

                  Wednesday, September 18, 2013 

              Crown Plaza, 45 John Glen Drive, Concord, CA 



Methadone and Buprenorphine 



Bay Area Addiction Research Treatment (BAART) has been providing drug treatment and rehabilitation services since 1977. Under a contract with BHS Alcohol and Other Drugs, BAART offers a comprehensive and structured continuum of care that includes opioid treatment programs, behavioral health services and primary medical care for individuals addicted to methamphetamine, cocaine, opioids, alcohol, marijuana, or other substances.  Some of the treatment modalities offered by BAART include: medically supervised withdrawal (long and short term), intensive outpatient treatment, narcotic treatment programs. Each program includes comprehensive medical and psychosocial assessment, medically assisted treatment options, counseling, drug education, life skills education, group therapy, case management and referrals services, random urinalysis and breathalyzer testing, relapse prevention and after care. 


As demonstrated during more than 35 years of use in Methadone Maintenance Programs (MMP),  Methadone is a safe medication and an effective treatment alternative for opioid users.  Like any other strong medicine, individuals may experience uncomfortable symptoms if methadone is combined with other medications, street drugs and even herbal or vitamin supplements.  Taken as prescribed by the physician, methadone does not harm any body organs or health; however, the more medications in the mix, the more potential there is for interaction.  Hence the importance for doctors to be informed about each health product and drug including methadone that a person is taking.  Both methadone and buprenorphine, can effectively treat opioid dependence, decrease cravings and relieve withdrawal symptoms, reduce illicit substance use, and help patients stay in treatment as they become productive members of society. To be eligible for services, individuals must be at least 18 years of age, have acceptable identification, agree to adhere to program policies and procedures. 


For more information contact:


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Several Upcoming Presentations to Follow. . .

Fred Harris, CSW, Contra Costa Older Adult Mental Health

This year's debut of PhotoVoice projects held at Crestwood Healing Center on April 11th, 2013 participants shared and explained their project to the audience, which included family, friends, and community members involved in PhotoVoice. Projects were as diverse as the participants themselves: all ages and walks of life. Some were about people's personal experiences, while others about more broad issues in society. All of them were extremely revealing of the deep prejudice people with mental health, homeless and alcohol and other drug issues face in our community. Many in the audience, as well as the presenters themselves, were visibly moved. After the presentation, participants were awarded certificates of achievement as a thank you for participating in the project.


This private viewing will be followed by many public presentations in the coming months. Call or email PhotoVoice Coordinator Doug Halpern at the Office for Consumer Empowerment for details about upcoming presentations if you would like to attend. 


For more information contact:

(925) 957-5149



The Homeless Program would like to share the results of the 2013 Homeless Count in a visual format that quickly conveys the homeless count data into more easily digestible information. Most notably, the 2013 Count resulted in an 11% decrease in the total number of homeless tallied in 2011.


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Click the link to view above graphics as a larger image: 


For additional findings from the 2013 Homeless Count, see the

fullinfographic on our website. You may also get more background information about the census and learn about our point in time count methodology by reading the  narrative summary

For more information contact:




'Breakdancing' as a Way to Positively Influence Peers 

Youth Making A Difference
John Huynh and David Huynh,
Recipients of the "People Who Make A Difference Award"

The Huynh brothers received the "People Who Make a Difference Award" in the youth group leadership category.  The two brothers were nominated by the Southeast Asian Youth Leaders (SEAYL) for their extraordinary contribution to the community.   John and David Huynh are students at Richmond High School, who having witnessed many difficult circumstances in their neighborhood, including drugs and alcohol, they proactively responded by establishing Crowned Brodies, a Bboy Crew passionate about breakdancing.  This group of eight youth use breakdancing as a way to positively influence peers. Breakdancing and dance competitions have been a constructive AOD prevention activity in the community. 


"People Who Make a Difference" Awards recognizes individuals and groups who have contributed significantly towards combating alcohol and other drugs in Contra Costa communities. Nominees must have 1) identified an alcohol and other drug problem and initiated effective, 2) contributed to reducing the impact of alcohol and other drugs in Contra Costa communities and 3) produced a significant shift in community alcohol and other drugs awareness. The Huynh brothers were recognized along with other individuals and groups on May 14, at the Board of Supervisors.


For More Information:





Back Row (Left to Right):Peter Ordaz, Justin Pennell, Felix Box, Jenny Robbins, Molly Henricks, Arturo Castillo 
Front Row: Kimberly Thai & Lavonna Martin


On May 30th, 2013 the Contra Costa Behavioral Health Homeless Program moved to its new location! Please update your records and spread the word!  Our new office is located at:


1350 Arnold Drive, Suite 202

Martinez, CA 94553

Main: 925-313-7700

Fax: 925-646-9420


BHS Homeless Program would like to thank you for your patience during this transition and they hope to see you soon at the new office! 

For more information



Scheduled for this Summer


After being eliminated in December 2012 due to lack of funding, it is with great enthusiasm we announce that the Contra Costa County Superior Court, in collaboration with the BHS Homeless Program, will resume the Homeless Court program this summer.


The Homeless Court program provides an invaluable service to homeless people to resolve outstanding minor offenses and warrants that often arise out of the condition of homelessness.  Frequent contact with police for loitering and other minor offenses result in many of the homeless receiving multiple citations with little to no means to resolve these issues. Unresolved citations and warrants can be significant barriers to a homeless person's efforts to obtain a job, a driver's license, housing and medical benefits.


Homeless Courts have been found to reduce court and jail costs, build community collaboration, improve access to court, and assist the homeless in getting needed services and jobs. Improving access to court for homeless people is accomplished by bringing the court to the community. By convening Homeless Court at the Concord Adult Shelter, it improves access to court for homeless people and conducts court proceedings in familiar surroundings; helping to build trust and confidence for the population being served.


Please visit our website for announcements, court calendar, eligibility requirements, and FAQs:

For more information contact:



Looking to Reach Out 

According to Dr. Patrick Corrigan, studies show that face to face contact is the most effective way to reduce stigma and discrimination. BHS Wellness Recovery Education for Acceptance Choice and Hope (WREACH)  is a speaker's bureau designed to reduce the internal, external, and institutional stigma surrounding people with lived experience around mental health, alcohol and other drugs, and homelessness.  WREACH seeks to reduce stigma in the workforce, health care system, homes, and in the community. 

WREACH speakers have presented to schools and colleges, behavioral

WREACH Participant Stephen Boyd speaks to residents at Margarita Villa
health agencies, faith-based communities and health care providers. A speaker recently presented to staff and residents at Margarita's Villa Board and Care in Concord. The speaker provided hope and also highlighted wellness and recovery strategies, including local self help groups that have helped him work towards his recovery goals. Following the presentation, residents were connecting other residents to resources in the community, and likewise for the board and care staff. This was the first WREACH presentation at a board and care and WREACH's first effort in building relationships in the County's housing communities.


Speakers represent various perspectives such as a parent or caregiver of children who receive or have received services, a family member of an adult, providers, and consumers from various ethnic and cultural backgrounds. WREACH is working towards providing more presentations to landlords, law enforcement, youth group homes, and other non-traditional behavioral health settings.  


To schedule a WREACH presentation near you, contact


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Mental Health Curriculum Concentration in Local High Schools
Grant Wyborny
Dr. Grant Wyborny, 
Instructor of the Mental Health Curriculum
Contra Costa BHS Mental Health has partnered with local schools to develop a new mental health concentration in local high school health academies. The program aims to both decrease stigma associated with mental illness and increase the number of high school students who are interested in pursuing a career in mental health, with a focus on diversity. As of May 2013, a total of 217 students across three schools throughout the County participated in the 10-week mental health course curriculum. Surveys following the course show reduced mental health stigma among students and the vast majority of students reported they are better prepared and ready for a mental health career. 


For more information contact:


$400,000 Raised to Support Services and Advocacy for People with Mental Illness and their Families!




This year's NAMIWalk (sponsored by the National Alliance on Mental Illness) in Golden Gate Park brought thousands of people together to walk in support of mental health. NAMI along with participants in the walk raised close to $400,000 for support services and advocacy for people with mental illness and their families. This year's event featured a speech by author and speaker Kevin Hines, who spoke about his experience attempting suicide by jumping off of the Golden Gate Bridge.  For more on Kevin Hines story go to:


Participants enjoyed the beautiful sunny day as they walked with purpose. Past and present members of CCBHS, Office of Consumer Empowerment (OCE) SPIRIT program attended and organized "Team Mind, Body and SPIRIT 2013 Moving Forward." Together, they were able to raise over $600 dollars to support people with mental illness and their families. Congratulations to all the participants who helped raise valuable funds for this great cause! 


For more information contact:



Distribute To Clients & the Community! 

BHS Mental Health Helpline:



For more information 


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HealingCuisineHealing Cuisine 
Justin's California Fish Tacos

INGREDIENTS: Servings: 4-6

-1 lb Red Snapper or Petrale Sole

-2 Large Eggs

-1/4 cup of high heat oil (sunflower, grapeseed, or peanut)

-limes (quartered), hot sauce (optional), Flour/Corn    combo Tortillas


For the Cabbage slaw:

-1/2 small Cabbage (green or purple)

-3 heaping tbsp Mayonnaise

-2 tbsp Rice Wine Vinegar

-1 tsp fresh ground Pepper, 1/2 tsp Salt

-1/4 cup chopped Cilantro


For the Guacamole:

-1 Avocado

-2 cloves pulverized Garlic

-1/4 C Lime juice, 1/2 chopped Tomato, 

-Pepper and Salt to taste


For the breading:

-Aprox. 3/4 C bread crumbs

-1 tsp ground California Chili or Chili Powder

-Salt and Pepper to taste



Make the slaw first. Cut up the cabbage into thin slices and add to a mixing bowl, add the mayonnaise, vinegar, pepper,
salt, and chopped c
ilantro, stir until mixed. Set aside. Heat the tortillas in the method you prefer. I usually wrap them all together tightly in foil and toss in a preheated 200 degree oven while I make the fish. 


Rinse the fish in cold water. Cut up fish crosswise into slices approx. 3/4 inch wide. Spread the breadcrumb mixture out onto a plate, and beat the eggs in a bowl. Begin dipping fish into the eggs and rolling the pieces in the breadcrumbs. Be sure to press the crumbs into the fish, to get as much to stick as possible. Heat the oil in a pan and place the breaded fish pieces inside, don't let them touch. Repeat until all the fish is fried golden brown. As pieces finish, place on a plate

covered with several layers of paper towels to soak up the extra oil.


Once the fish is done frying, prepare the guacamole. Mash the avocado, and add the remaining ingredients. Stir until well mixed. Assemble as you desire! I generally like to slather my tortillas with guacamole first, then place a couple pieces of fish, top with the slaw, dab some hot sauce on top, and squeeze on the quartered limes. I personally advocate using locally sourced fish, and organically grown, locally sourced produce. Many of these ingredients are usually found at your farmer's market,and when you find them there, they are affordable and fresh. Enjoy!


To Share your review or for questions, contact: .
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Behavioral Health Connection Newsletter


Courtesy of the BHS Communications Team 
Next BHC Newsletter:  Monday, September 9 2013

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