Behavioral Health Connection (The BHC) 

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9th Annual Project Homeless Connect
Suicide Prevention Strategic Plan
Show Your SPIRIT
From Cali House to Cal
Juvenile Behavioral Health Collaborative
AOD Strategic Plan
Red Ribbon Week
New Mental Health Services Act Program Manager
Mental Health Consumer Feedback
October is HIPAA & Cultural Competency Training Month!
What Do We Know About the DSM - 5?
New Safety Coordinator
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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Continuity gives us roots . . . change gives us branches . . . letting us stretch, grow and reach new heights.
-Pauline Kezer 
Cynthia Belon
   Cynthia Belon,  LCSW 
    Director of Behavioral  
        Health Services




Our clients face challenges every day, in no small part because of the institutional challenges that we also face as we deliver the behavioral health services they need.  As service providers, who among us has not felt frustrated when the best we could do for a client was to provide help for only one of their many needs, then refer them elsewhere for the rest? Who has not wondered if that client would actually find their way through the system?


The drive to integrate Behavioral Health Services began two years ago because we all recognized the need to treat the whole person, and the institutional obstacles that make doing so difficult.  Since then, we have been working hard, together, to identify where we can do more to treat the whole individual, rather than individual illnesses.


This quarter, more than ever before, real change is happening. Much work remains as we continue our collaborative transformation, but Behavioral Health is now putting your best ideas into practice.


We all know that to treat the whole person, we must offer all the services they need, when and where they visit. The concept is simple, however going beyond co-location, to provide coordinated comprehensive multidisciplinary services is complicated. That is why all of us should take pride in the new Concord Health Center 2, which last month opened with mental health, alcohol and other drugs, and homeless services offered alongside ambulatory care services.


This collaboration between Behavioral Health, Public Health and Contra Costa Regional Medical Center exemplifies what we need to do to meet the needs of our community. Look for this new way of providing care to increasingly become our standard. Thanks to our partnership with CCRMC, Behavioral Health will soon be offering some ambulatory care services at our adult mental health center in Concord.


We are also beginning to design integrated programs within our own system, where multidisciplinary teams will work side-by-side to offer previously separate mental health, AOD and homeless services at our El Portal adult mental health clinic, Concord homeless shelter and at our respite program as initial pilots for a new model of service delivery.


Making every door a right door for our services means less waiting and less work for the client, not to mention improved health and wellbeing. But to achieve that goal, we need to look at all of the ways people access our services, and optimize those access points so that assistance is provided easily and immediately. For example, we have historically had three separate phone lines as entry points into Behavioral Health Services. But is this really the most efficient practice?


Soon we are going to begin a quality improvement process with an eye towards developing the most efficient ways for people to get connected into our system and to all of the services that they need, including taking a look at our phone lines.

We also will soon begin the development of an electronic health record system for Behavioral Health, so that our technology matches our modern ideas about the delivery of service for our clients.


Sometimes consolidating the management of a service is the most efficient way to ensure its delivery to all who need it. That is our hope for the various housing programs managed by Behavioral Health, which together help hundreds of our clients in Contra Costa County who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.


We will soon consolidate all of our housing under the Homeless Program - the logical administrator - so that our full complement of housing options is available to our clients in one place. That idea and many others came from you during the past two years. And, while the transformation of Behavioral Health Services is underway, we are not yet done planning, talking or collaborating.


As I mentioned in my last message, part of our mission now is to reach out to the larger community to better incorporate the experiences and ideas of clients, their families, and our community based partners in determining our priorities for change. As we do this, we will also look for more opportunities to engage staff in the process of reshaping our internal architecture.

Before the end of the year, we will hold an Integration Forum to solicit feedback and harvest ideas, one of several opportunities for staff and our partners to get involved in transforming our system.


Please do continue to be involved. Your many talents and ideas for system transformation can only enhance the process of improving the experience of our clients. As always your feedback is meaningful to me and this entire division. Please continue to provide feedback through the staff suggestion box:  BHS Staff_Comment_Box.

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


  Homeless Connect Image

On October 9th, a partnership between the County's Homeless Program and several volunteers and service providers will reach out to the homeless population in Contra Costa County. This is the 9th year hosting Project Homesless Connect, which will offer homeless or at-risk of being homeless individuals access and information to the many programs and services available in our County. Contra Costa Health Services is currently looking for volunteers to participate in this year's Homeless Connect event and provide or administer needed services. 


Save the Date - Flyer


To Volunteer please complete the following form:  Project Homeless Connect Volunteer Form.


For more information contact:



Our Rate Is Higher Than the State's 

Suicide Prevention
Gerold Loenicker, Rhonda James, and Contra Costa Mental Health Director Steven Grolnic-McClurg present the Suicide Strategic Plan to Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors


A two-year effort to develop better policy for addressing suicide in Contra Costa County culminated with the release of the Suicide Prevention Strategic Plan this month. The Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the plan September 10th, during National Suicide Prevention Week. Gerold Loenicker, Prevention and Early Intervention Program Supervisor, addressed  the board and said,  "In many cases, suicide may be preventable if primary care providers effectively screen individuals who are at risk, on a routine basis, and provide links to the right resources."


Loenicker co-chaired the Suicide Prevention Committee with Contra Costa Crisis Center director Rhonda James. The committee analyzed data provided by the Coroner's Office to identify at-risk populations, common methods of suicide, and how to improve delivery of crisis-support and prevention services. Recommendations in the plan include increasing coordination between county systems and community service providers to minimize obstacles to receiving help, improving protocols for assessment, triage and warm hand-offs of at-risk people, and training about warning signs and effective prevention practices for healthcare providers and community "gatekeepers" such as teachers and the clergy. The committee includes Behavioral Health Services, Contra Costa Regional Medical Center & Health Centers, Contra Costa Crisis Center, John Muir Health, Kaiser Permanente, and other community based organizations, health care providers, and public agencies.Funding for this plan was provided through the Mental Health Services Act. Contra Costa's suicide rate is 10.9 per 100,000 in population, higher than the state average of 10.3 per 100,000. 


A copy of the Suicide Prevention Strategic Plan can be found here: 

Suicide Prevention Strategic Plan 2013


9/9 Press release:  Collaboration Focuses on Suicide Prevention


Two minute video on Suicide Prevention:  Suicide Prevention Tips


For more information contact:




Apply Now


The Service Provider Individualized Recovery Intensive Training (SPIRIT) is a nine-unit, college accredited course offered through Contra Costa Behavioral Health Services in partnership with Mental Health Consumer Concerns (MHCC) and Contra Costa College in San Pablo. SPIRIT teaches consumers how to be Peer Support Providers. Although applicants must currently be receiving or have previously received mental health services, many students who participate also have experienced homelessness and/or alcohol and other drug addiction and recovery.  


SPIRIT classes begin annually in January and end in late July. The program includes a six-week  

internship at participating behavioral health agencies in Contra Costa County. Upon completion, students are awarded a certificate of achievement that is recognized and valued by many mental health service providers in the County.  

Behavioral Health Staff attend the
annual SPIRIT graduation.


The curriculum includes:   

  • Expert speakers on mental health and community resources
  • Comprehensive rehabilitation and recovery training
  • Support programs for consumers who want to work as  peer providers in the mental health field
  • Classroom instruction with on the job experience through an internship at a local behavioral health organization
  • Wellness tools for addiction and mental health recovery 

Below are links to promotional materials and the SPIRIT application. County behavioral health providers are encouraged to print out and distribute these materials to individuals receiving services, as well as family members and colleagues, in order to inform them about this exciting program. 


Application deadline for the SPIRIT program is:

Friday, October 11, 2013 

Completed applications should be sent to:

Contra Costa Behavioral Health Services

Office for Consumer Empowerment

1340 Arnold Drive, Suite 200, Martinez, CA 94553. 

Fax: 925-957-5156 


Apply now - Application

View our flyer - Flyer

For more information - Brochure

For more information contact:, or call 925-957-5147



 A Self Told Success Story

Cali House, A Home Away from Home
Story Teller & Art Work: Anonymous
Calli House youth shelter is designed to address the immediate shelter needs of runaway and homeless youth ages 14-21 in Contra Costa County. Read below how Calli House impacted this young man's life.  
"It was only five years ago that I was homeless, sleeping at bus stops and hidden corners. How I ended up that way wasn't new: an abusive stepfather, a complacent and negligent mother, and a lack of extended family. On my own, I tried to find a job and a place to stay - with little success. It wasn't surprising, since I've never had a job and lacked references and experience. After a few weeks of wandering cold, tired, and hungry, I went to a local shelter: Calli House, where I had a place to sleep, some food, and space for belongings. 
Later on, I moved into a Transitional Living Program (TLP) from more 
UC Berkeley Campanile
Image of the University of California, Berkeley's Campanile
 housing. With the TLP's bigger space and greater flexibility, I found a job and enrolled at a community college. I was also connected with a personal services coordinator from Fred Finch to get extra support and work through depression and other issues. With the support of the personal service coordinator and stable housing, I balanced school and working part-time. I worked as a canvasser, cashier, tutor, mover and other small jobs to pay for books, living expenses, and save money. Eventually I transferred to a four-year university-applying to five schools in the California University system, getting in to all of them, and deciding on UC Berkeley. 
Now, two years later, I've graduated from UC Berkeley with a bachelor's degree from the world's number one public university, am searching for my first 'grown-up' job, and beginning the next stage of life as an independent adult."  
-Cali House youth, anonymous


To learn more about Cali House dial toll free: 1-800-610-9400.


For more information visit:


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An Integrated Approach to Maximizing Treatment

  Juvenile BH


Contra Costa Behavioral Health in strong partnership with Contra Costa County Juvenile Probation received a grant from the Bureau of Justice Assistance U.S. Department of Justice (BJA DOJ) at the beginning of this calendar year.  This planning and implementation grant is intended to serve 20 youth ages 13-18 who are wards of the court, for misdemeanors or felony charges, have  serious mental health diagnoses or co-occurring disorder, a substance use disorder, and are at risk of out of home placement, have a history of trauma, and can be safely treated in the community. The two-year grant, envisions meeting the Behavioral Health needs of Richmond youth at a single location through a contract with Community Health for Asian Americans (CHAA).  Additionally, Mental Health has enhanced the program with a Parent Partner and "Triple P" parenting classes to support the families and significant others of the youth participating in the Juvenile Behavioral Health Collaborative.  Both the Parent Partner and the Prevention and Early Intervention "Triple P" parenting classes are partially, or in whole funded by the Mental Health Services Act.  This new program has provided a tremendous opportunity for both Contra Costa Mental Health and Alcohol and Other Drugs Services to develop integrated procedures and processes as well as sharing resources to maximize treatment outcomes and decrease service fragmentation, incarceration, and out-of-home placement. 


TRAINING CALENDARS                       

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"Our County, Our Needs, Our Priorities"


Strategic Prevention    

SAMSHA Five Step Strategic Prevention Framework


With the onset of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the integration of Behavioral Health (Mental Health, Alcohol and Other Drugs, and the Homeless Program), AOD participated in a major undertaking to update our countywide Strategic Plan on AOD prevention services.  The first AOD Strategic Plan for primary prevention services was developed in 2000 and second release reflected plan updates for the period of 2007-2013.   The second release of the plan was developed by a workgroup of community stakeholders which created the Mission, Vision and Guiding Principles for the County's AOD prevention services.


Our planning process to update the plan, closely followed the Federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's (SAMHSA) Strategic Prevention Framework. The overall aim of this process was to revise the current plan based on changing conditions and drawing upon a full data needs assessment.  The ability to build capacity consisted in fully engaging youth and residents in the process of reviewing a variety of available local and state data, and understanding SAMSHA's Strategic Planning Process.   Three regional and one prioritization forum were convened as an opportunity to revisit theoretical prevention frameworks and solicit community input for the levels of prevention services needed in Contra Costa based on data and given available  resources. The new AOD Prevention Strategic Plan has 3 goals:  Reduce Underage Drinking, Reduce Marijuana Use by Youth, and Maintain AOD Systems Capacity and Sustainability.


A copy of the strategic plan plan can be found here: 2013 Strategic Plan


 For more information 


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Celebrate a Drug and Alcohol Free Community



Red Ribbon week, typically celebrated the last week in October, was established as a result of the death of Enrique (Kike) Camarena a Drug Enforcement Agent who died in the line of duty.  In honor of Camarena's memory and his battle against illegal drugs friends, neighbors and parents began forming coalitions to combat alcohol and other drugs and wearing satin red badges. Some of these new coalitions took Camarena as their model and embraced his belief that one person can make a difference. These coalitions also adopted the symbol of Camarena's memory, the Red Ribbon.


The National Family Partnership organized the first Nationwide Red Ribbon Campaign. Since that time, the campaign has reached millions of U.S. children and families. Over the years, the Red Ribbons are displayed in schools and in the workplace to show a long term commitment for a drug and alcohol free community. In Contra Costa, the Alcohol and Other Drugs Advisory Board in cooperation with Alcohol and Other Drugs Services and the Board of Supervisors coordinate Red Ribbon Week activities with community based prevention providers and schools to offer our citizens the opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to ongoing healthy, alcohol and drug-free lifestyles.  Red Ribbon week is observed the week of October 23-31, 2013 and activities in Contra Costa County will include a proclamation from the Board of Supervisors. 


For more information please see the Red Ribbon Guide 2013


For more information 


Introducing Warren Hayes


Warren Hayes
Warren Hayes, MHSA Program Manager

In July of this year Warren Hayes joined Contra Costa Mental Health as the new Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) Program Manager.  Warren worked extensively at the State level for both the Department of Rehabilitation and the now defunct Department of Mental Health.  While at the Department of Mental Health Warren was the MHSA Chief of Workforce Education and Training (WET), which involved writing the Five Year Plan, promulgating the regulations and policies governing this MHSA component, and approving County WET Plans.  Warren's most recent assignment with the Department of Rehabilitation was acting as the Director of the Orientation Center for the Blind here in the Bay Area.  Previous State assignments include creating and managing the statewide Mental Health Cooperative Programs and providing vocational rehabilitation services to persons with disabilities in West Contra Costa County.  Warren is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, and a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor.


Warren believes strongly in the values embodied by the Mental Health Services Act, to include partnerships with all stakeholders to plan, implement and evaluate all Contra Costa Mental Health programs impacted by MHSA funding.  He is currently preparing for a year-long community planning process that will result in Contra Costa Mental Health's next three year MHSA Program and Expenditure Plan.       

For more information



Good Survey Returns, Despite Short Survey Period



The California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) mandates that all Counties survey its mental health consumers to obtain feedback on the quality of services provided.  The State's survey instrument this year was familiar to many staff and consumers alike - the Mental Health Statistical Improvement Project (MHSIP) survey (also referred to by some as the "POQI" Performance Outcomes Quality Improvement).  Consumer feedback not only helps the County but also the County's contract agencies who also seek to better their services.  This year's survey period was August 26 - 30.  The County surveyed clients at each of the regional clinics and contract providers similarly engaged their clients to obtain feedback on services. 


The County received a fair turnout of surveys despite the State's one week survey period.  Thus far, the County received 846 surveys (289 completed surveys from Contra Costa regional clinics and 557 from contract providers), an increase of approximately 77% from last year's report figures (479).


The coordination efforts were extensive but Mental Health staff were very accommodating and graciously assisted the effort.  We will be submitting the survey results to the State and analyzing the data for each of our clinics and contract providers in the next couple of months so stay tuned. 


Special acknowledgement of the following County staff:  Zabeth Cooper, Clinic Coordinator, Jennifer Tuipulotu, Family Services Coordinator, and staff parent partners.  We would also like to thank Maria Ramirez, Director of Mental Health Concerned Citizens (MHCC), her support staff Renee Owens, Chelsey Holzer and Judith Jones-Germany, and the MHCC volunteers for their contribution to this project.   We would also like to highlight Contra Costa Behavioral Health Office of Consumer Empowerment for their added educational outreach efforts.

For more information 



County Behavioral Health Staff Prepare to Access Online Learning System 


During the month of October, County staff will be expected to complete two mandatory trainings -the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and Cultural Diversity - as a part of the Behavioral Health Division's annual training requirement. The deadline to complete the trainings will be November 1, 2013.  Staff and supervisors will receive periodic email reminders from Essential Learning until these courses are completed.  These two trainings can be completed from any computer that has internet capability.  Staff will need their log in credentials and the website link to access the courses through Relias, Behavioral Health's library of online courses.   

As a current Behavioral Health staff user of the site, you may have noticed that the interface of the site has changed. Essential Learning/Elevate was recently acquired by Relias Learning and the site has a new face-lift, however most of the functionality to the site remains the same.  To access the Relias site (formerly Essential Learning), please visit the website:


The County recommends our community based organizations' staff also be current on annual HIPAA requirements.  If your CBO does not currently have a formal HIPAA training process and wish to also utilize Essential Learning for your HIPAA requirement, please contact: .


If you need assistance with the site, such as username/password assistance or certificate printing, please email



For more information contact:


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Relias Releases Two Courses: Brief Overview & Overview of the DSM - 5 



The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) has been published.  Though many elements remain the same from the DSM-4, some have changed. Relias System, Contra Costa Behavioral Health's on-line library of courses recently posted two courses: DSM-5 Brief Overview and  DSM-5 Overview. The latter is considerably more in depth than the DSM-5 Brief Overview course.  Also, unlike the Brief Overview course, the DSM-5 Overview is approved for CEUs for various disciplines. The County still does not have any guidance from the State regarding how changes according to the DSM-5 will be implemented, so we don't currently have plans to formally implement changes according to the DSM-5. The Relias System courses are only intended to help County clinicians and mental health staff learn about the new DSM.  


If you need assistance with the site, such as username/password assistance or certificate printing, please email


For more information contact:  


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Peter Ordaz
Peter Ordaz, 

SSI Enrollment Coordinator,

Contra Costa Homeless Program

Peter Ordaz, our New Safety Coordinator hopes to ensure we are.  Contra Costa Behavioral Health staff Peter Ordaz will serve as the new Workplace Safety and Emergency Preparedness Coordinator. As a County employee the last 13 years, Peter is excited about the new role and opportunity.  Peter states that "as both natural and man-made disasters occur without a moment's notice, the Behavioral Health Division needs to be prepared to keep staff, consumers, and our buildings as safe as possible. We have different safety regulations and emergency preparations needs at our clinics and administrative offices than we do at our 24-hour facilities."


Peter will be responsible for working with the division managers to make sure programs are compliant with State and Federal workplace safety regulations.  This includes ensuring that program staff have complete and updated emergency instructions, conduct safety inspections, post workplace safety signs, and coordinate safety and preparation activities and staff trainings.


Mr. Ordaz will also work with various County agencies such as the Risk Management Program and Sheriff's Office as well as the Department's Emergency Management Team to develop and coordinate preparedness activities and to help ensure that all programs comply with workplace safety regulations. Peter adds, "Many of us have lived through disasters, and we know how frightening and disruptive they can be.  My job is to help us become better prepared at home and at work so that we can get through these with the least amount of damage to ourselves, our families and our consumers as possible. I look forward to working with you to make this happen."


For more information contact: 


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HealingCuisineHealing Cuisine 
Braised Beef Short Ribs
Short ribs

- 12 large beef shortribs
-  salt & fresh ground pepper
- grapeseed or olive oil
- large yellow onion, chopped
- celery stalk, chopped
- carrot, peeled and chopped
- bottle of red wine (i.e. cabernet sauvignon or zinfandel)
- 1.5 quarts veal or beef stock

How to:
- Preheat oven to 350°F
- Season ribs to taste with the salt and pepper 
- Heat oil in a large, heavy bottomed ovenproof pan over high heat 

- Add ribs and brown on all sides. Work in batches if you need to.
- Transfer ribs to a plate, pouring off excess fat. 
- Add the onions, celery, and carrots to the pan and sauté, stirring often, until lightly browned. 

- Remove the vegetables from the pan, set aside. 
- Then add the wine to the pan, deglazing the pan, scraping off any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. 
- Reduce the wine by three-quarters until thick and slightly syrupy, about 15 minutes.
- Return the ribs to the pan, add the veal stock and enough water to cover the ribs. 
- Bring to a boil, cover with foil, and place in the oven. 
- Braise, cooking in the oven, until the meat is fork-tender, 2 to 3 hours. 
- During the last 1/2 hour of cooking, add back in the vegetables. 
- Allow the ribs to cool in the liquid, then cover and refrigerate overnight.


The next day, remove the excess fat that has solidified at the top from the overnight chilling. 
- Place the pan with the ribs and cooking lid over medium heat, uncovered.
- Cook until the liquid has reduced by 3/4ths, about 1 hour
- Continue to cook, spooning the sauce over the ribs until the sauce is thick and ribs are glazed.
- Move the ribs around in the pan to keep them from burning.


Serve over mashed potatoes, egg noodles, or rice.  I usually serve with a Potato Galette. 

Yield:  Serves 6.


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