Over the last two decades, Safe Passages has fought to increase the accessibility of mental health services and to innovate new culturally responsive approaches to improving mental health in the communities we serve. And Safe Passages has been an implementer of the California Reducing Disparities Project (CRDP) – a program of the California State Department of Public Health’s Office of Health Equity – since August 2016.

The vision for the project is a California in which all individuals, regardless of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity, receive quality mental health prevention and treatment services delivered in a culturally and linguistically competent manner. The CRDP focuses on achieving mental health equity for five population groups who are the most adversely affected by disparities: African American, Asian and Pacific Islander, Latino, LGBTQ, and Native American.

Safe Passages is implementing the CRDP curriculum through its own program model called the Law and Social Justice Life Coaching Project (LSJ Life Coaching). Safe Passages’ project focuses on African American youth ages 16 to 21. The LSJ Life Coaching Project seeks to positively impact the following for unserved, underserved, and inappropriately served populations:

1) Physical, psychological, spiritual health and wellbeing.
2) Community, social, and cultural connectedness.
3) Functionality in school/work, social and family life.

The LSJ Life Coaching Project provides effective trauma-informed, culturally competent life coaching as prevention and early intervention services to reduce toxic stress levels and increase support to mitigate participants’ risk of symptoms associated with trauma and mental illness.
The project specifically addresses the following CRDP statewide recommendations:
1) Increase Access to Mental Health Services – by making prevention and intervention services more available to African American adjudicated youth in very low-income communities.
2) Improve the Quality of Mental Health Services – by providing culturally and linguistically competent services of the highest quality that meet the needs of African American adjudicated youth and are delivered by a staff that reflects the community served.
3) Build on Community Strengths to Empower the Community – by providing community members, specifically African American adjudicated youth and their parents and family members, with the tools, information, and opportunities to be involved and engaged in the development, implementation, and evaluation of services on a local level and statewide level.
4) Focus on the Reentry Population – by providing grassroots prevention and intervention services for African American adjudicated youth in the targeted communities to prevent recidivism.
5) Stabilize the Black Family Unit – by providing services to strengthen the natural family support system through Safe Passages’ Family Resource Centers located at select partner schools serving adjudicated youth in the African American target communities.

The Department of Public Health seeks to reduce mental health disparities among unserved, underserved and inappropriately served populations in the state. The success of the interventions will then be measured and evaluated through pre and post surveys. Participating youth will be asked various questions related to the three components of health mentioned above so that Safe Passages staff members can gage their mental health state pre-intervention. The same participants will also be surveyed after they have received the five interventions and have completed the program.

As we continue our pursuit of social justice and actively work toward better outcomes for the youth and families in our communities, we vow to always maintain a steady focus on improving mental health practices and access to effective mental health services.

For more information about the partnership between Safe Passages’ Law and Social Justice Coaching Program and California Reducing Disparities Project, please contact Nina Moreno Ph.D., Research & Strategic Partnerships Director, at nmoreno@safepassages.org.