Expanding Mental Health Services
Isla Vista is facing a mental health and wellness crisis, particularly among college-aged individuals that are reporting increasing levels of mental health issues every year. Nationwide, one in four college students have a diagnosable mental illness, the most common being depression and anxiety disorders. In the UC system alone, the number of students seeking mental health services rose by 78% over the past 10 years. In 2018, 13% of UC students received some form of counseling, the highest number ever reported.
With one mental health provider for every 210 people, Santa Barbara County boasts one of the best ratios of residents to providers in California. But thousands of County residents live in areas designated by the federal government as Mental Health Professional Shortage Areas, and several clinics and facilities face a similar shortage of staff. For college students, state and local officials in California have largely neglected the mental health crisis and passed the burden onto UC's and CSU's to provide programs. This has resulted in impacted services that aren't available to the wider public.
While hiring more providers is a long term solution, as Supervisor, Bruce pledges to explore hiring and training community health workers. Tasked with case management and health education efforts, these workers will help Isla Vista and County residents access services they’re traditionally shut out of. These services will serve UC students, SBCC students living in Isla Vista and long-term Isla Vista residents. These workers will also help County health be more responsible to the unique needs of the region’s homeless residents.