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County Spotlight - Monterey

(Published in 2016)

What Prop 63 program (s) would you like us to mention that you’re seeing particularly good or promising outcomes?
Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports (PBIS)
Mental Health First Aid (MHFA)
OMNI Resource Center, a program of Interim, Inc.
Sticks & Stones
Community Human Services Parent Education Classes
Prevention and Recovery in Early Psychosis (PREP)

Is there a particular staff person, clinician, or provider (including the MH or BH Director or MHSA coordinator) that you would like to give a shout out?

(Bertha Cervantes and Elizabeth Barrell)

Bertha Cervantes has been championing on behalf of consumers since she started working for Interim four years ago.  Starting as a Community Support Worker at the OMNI Resource Center, Bertha displayed compassion, selflessness, a quiet strength and determination to make sure that consumers were receiving the best possible service.  She brought with her knowledge and skills from her previous positions, which proved valuable when people came in and needed referrals to different resources.  She also brought her lived experience as a consumer, and a huge heart.  When asked during the interview what she hoped to get out of working with consumers at OMNI, she said, “I am not sure what I hope to learn, but this is where I need to be.” Bertha embraced group facilitation, got involved with outreach to the Latino community, and learned many new tools from various trainings.  The best education she received was from our consumers.  When she facilitated a group, there was a mutual learning that benefitted her and the group participants.  Bertha became a confident leader and mentor.  She was promoted to a Wellness Navigator working full-time at both OMNI and the Bienestar integrated healthcare clinic. When Bertha sees that someone is not getting the best possible service, she doesn’t hesitate to say something in a compassionate, trauma-informed way.  She will work with that individual to get them the services they need, and she helps them believe that everything will get better.  I’ve seen many individuals working with Bertha who have no home, no food, and no hope.  She works with them to find them shelter, give them a meal, and lets them know that wellness & recovery is possible.  Bertha uses her personal story to show people that if she can recover, they can too.

Elizabeth Barrell works hard for her peers.  She gives hope verbally, through her actions, and in her recovery.  She goes out of her way to provide care in the details (a bus pass, a backpack, etc.) and shares her struggles and successes one-on-one with her peers, and to large audiences, through Success Over Stigma (another program of Interim, Inc.).  She strives to improve the general community, and the mental health community.  She is honest & straight-forward about her lived experience and how she ended up where she is today.  She is passionate about the wellness and recovery movement and inspires many people to be more loving and compassionate. Beth has volunteered for Dual Recovery Services, Supported Education & Employment Services (an Interim, Inc. program), SOS, and Hope & Recovery.  She doesn’t hesitate to help out where it’s needed and gives so much back to her community. Beth has worked for Dual Recovery Services (also an Interim, Inc. program) as a Community Support Worker II for a couple of years now.  DRS serves people who have a mental health diagnosis, as well as a substance abuse disorder.  The population served can be challenging to work with at times, but this is where Beth shines the brightest.  She normalizes and validates the “voices issue” for a lot of clients, which sets them on the path to recovery. 

Michelle Feliciano, Sticks & Stones Program Manager
Myrna Ezekiel has worked for Community Human Services as its parenting education program coordinator for over 4 years.  In that time, she has ensured that exceptional knowledge and skills are taught to all students of Triple P and has trained not only CHS’s parent educators but educators from other organizations, as well.  Myrna collaborates with schools, churches and other organizations to offer community-based classes whenever possible, which increases interest and attendance in the classes. In addition, Myrna is a popular instructor who has taught many full to capacity parenting workshops at school and community resource events, also thanks to funding from Prop. 63.

(Myrna Ezekiel teaching a class)

Does your county have any interesting statistics to provide?
PBIS Outcomes (2015-2016 Federal Data Reporting). Data only includes federally funded districts, Alisal USD, Salinas City ESD, Salinas UHSA, 34 schools total.

  • Office Discipline Referrals (ODR), 7 of 20 schools (35%) reported reduced ODRs.
  • Attendance Rates, 18 of 34 schools (53%) reported an increase in attendance rates.
  • All Suspensions & Expulsions, 6 of 26 schools (23%) reported a decrease in Suspensions & Expulsions.
  • Suspensions & Expulsions related to the use and/or possession of tobacco, alcohol and drugs, 32 of 34 schools (94%) reported a decrease.
  • Loss of Instruction Time Due to Suspensions, 8 of 18 (44%) schools reported a decrease in instructional time loss.
  • Team Implementation Checklist Assessment, 29 of 32 schools ((1%) reported improvements with implementing PBIS and progress towards fidelity.

Just under 50% of consumers served by OMNI identify as Hispanic.  We continue to outreach to the Latino community and meet them where they are.  

Sticks & Stones served 1,591 children who have been traumatized by violence and/or abuse in Monterey County in the 2015-16 school year,  67% of those children served improved in their overall functioning.

Last fiscal year (FY 2014-15), Community Human Services (CHS) provided 645 individuals in Monterey County with 3,240 units of service in English and Spanish, using the evidence-based best practice Triple P (Positive Parenting Program), thanks to Prop. 63 funding.

Any upcoming events that you’d like us to help promote via our website, listserve and Twitter?

Any success stories that you’d like us to mention?
The partners working with the Youth Mental Health First Aid Project (MHFA) are developing a system of support for youth in crisis in Monterey.  During this period (September 30, 2015 – March 31, 2016), we continued our plan to reach out to a wide range of school personnel, emergency responders, counselors, parents, caregivers, and other youth-serving adults.  We have a strong team of instructors who are working to create a system that is not only sustainable, but embedded with training opportunities and support for those in need of mental health services.   

Our training team has also expanded to include two bilingual instructors.  In December 2015, the Project Director attended the YMHFA instructors training which has enabled our project to reach a broader audience, namely parents.  Eighty percent of families residing in the City of Salinas speak predominately Spanish in the home and having bilingual instructors provides the opportunity for parents to learn about a topic that has been known to be taboo.

In addition, we are continuing to partner and outreach to Monterey County schools implementing Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support (PBIS).  The work of YMHFA revolves around the work being conducted with PBIS.  Our efforts are helping to create the infrastructure needed for keeping the YMHFA project together, as well as, available to caring adults who can make difference.  

Furthermore, three school districts in Salinas have developed their supports where specialized teams of behavioral and intervention specialists now have an increased capacity to identify youth with mental health problems enabling them to provide much needed services.

In terms of outreach, our efforts to reach a broad section of the community has paid off as we are now receiving inquiries about the trainings and colleagues are referring their friends to the various workshops. Compared to last period, our project has increased its visibility and has become one where groups are now requesting special trainings for their own employees.  To date we have trained 313 adults and have made 212 referrals to community resources.


  • OMNI offers two peer support groups in East Salinas.  East Salinas is an area that has a high concentration of low-income, monolingual Spanish speakers.  The people who participate in our off-site groups do not have the means to come to the OMNI Resource Center, which is why we brought the groups to them. 
  • Three participants in the off-site groups have grown and embraced their recovery. When they first started attending the groups, they had very little self-esteem and were experiencing a severe depression.  With the support they gained from their peers, their self-esteem increased and they were able to go back to work.  One of them has gone back to school, as well, and another is engaged to be married.
  • Another OMNI participant began attending after losing their job, their driver’s license, and their self-esteem.  They enjoyed the program so much, they began volunteering in an effort to give back.  They are now looking to get off benefits, get their driver’s license back, and work full-time.

Sticks & Stones
Dr. Nunez of Montebella Elementary School reports in June of 2016 that “Our students were served really well this year”. From a teacher at Martin Luther King Elementary School in June of 2016 “Extreme improvement in school behavior. Overall improvement in attitude. Students are more confident and interaction with other peers has improved”.

Community Human Services - Success Story

My name is Jose C.  My wife and I have two children.  We have an open CPS case, and for that reason my babies were removed to a foster home.  The court gave me only six months to reunify with them.

At the beginning when it all happened, I felt confused, stressed and worried and I felt that by taking my babies from me, they had taken my reason for living; in fact; the option of stopping living started to turn into a very desirable one, since two weeks went by in which we were not let to know anything about my babies.

One day, I received a call from a Social Worker from the Court Unit in which she told me she had referred us to the Triple P program.  The same day I came to register to the classes the impact and change in my life started because of the good and humane treatment I received from the team of teachers and the administration.

The classes are brilliant! They are very thorough and simple.  They cover a large array of topics, and as many as they are, they are easy to understand.  They teach you what you, as a person, might not know.  At least I didn’t know.  Like those small traps that in a moment can turn into something greatly dangerous.  They teach you anger control, how to develop a positive and safe environment, not only for your children but for your marriage.  They show you the path toward how to teach your children positively.  They also teach you something that I think most parents don’t know, and that is how to correct or discipline our children in a positive manner.

 What was the most balancing part of the classes for me was the topic of self care.  My reasoning is, if you don’t take care of yourself; how do you expect to be able to create a safe and positive environment in your home?  They also teach you to have realistic expectations, and to treat your children like the small real persons they are.

When I first entered the classroom and saw several people in there, I felt somewhat intimidated, but as the time went by, I started to feel very comfortable and gradually the environment turned so that it felt as if we all had known each other for years.

My experience, when it all started, was very scary, but now with the passing of time, I am learning to be a better parent, and a better husband.  These classes gave me a positive outlook, strength, and confidence.

The result has been outstanding!  My marriage is better than ever, and the relationship with my daughter is so much better.  She is only two years old, but she has adjusted to the ways of the program very well and we continue working hard to acquire better parenting skills.

According to the National Institute of Health (NIH, 2013), 100,000 adolescents and young adults in the US experience a first episode of psychosis every year. The goal of early psychosis services is to connect the young person with specialized treatment as soon as possible after symptoms appear, as studies show that this can make a significant difference in restoring social, school, and work functioning and in preventing impairments long term.
Since 2013, Monterey County BHS has partnered with the Felton Institute (formerly the Family Service Agency of San Francisco) to implement the Prevention and Recovery in Early Psychosis (PREP) program. Monterey County was one of the first few counties in California to implement a coordinated specialty care program for the early detection and treatment of psychosis and PREP brings to the community an integrated array of evidence-based interventions that represent the cutting edge of treatment science.
Funded through MHSA Prevention and Early Intervention (PEI), PREP provides evidence-based early psychosis interventions to all Monterey County residents between the ages of 14 through 35, who are within the first five years of onset of symptoms. PREP services include individual psychotherapy utilizing Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Psychosis (CBTp), strength-based case management, medication support, family support, Multifamily Psychoeducational Groups (MFG), and employment and education support. Young people are encouraged to engage and lead their recovery process and families are encouraged to engage in all phases of treatment and to become strong partners in the wellness and recovery of their loved ones.
PREP is actively involved in the community, engaging schools, families, advocacy groups, mental health providers and other non-profits to spread the word that early psychosis treatment makes a difference in the lives of youth and young adults diagnosed with Schizophrenia. The PREP website ( provides information about early psychosis, as well as a pre-assessment questionnaire.

How has Prop 63 made a difference in your community?
Prop 63 has provided a means for people who have mental health challenges to end their isolation and engage in the community again.  Programs funded by Prop. 63 give them the self-esteem and self-worth that enables them to believe in their recovery, and that they can be well again.  Many people who pass through our program have returned to work or school, to become productive members of society again.  Having the support of their peers and knowing that they are not alone is sometime all it takes to get someone started on the path to recovery. 

Prop 63 has helped Harmony At Home improve the lives of children who have been exposed to violence and trauma. The funding support has helped us to help these children and their families break the cycles of violence and abuse, now and for future generations.

Prop 63 provides crucial funding for Parent Education classes at Community Human Services (CHS). Parents who complete CHS Parent Education Program gain insight to their current parenting style, as well as: how to express love, set limits, create positive relationships, communicate constructively, set age-appropriate expectations and give effective consequences, which improves child behavior at home and school, increase familial happiness and improve the health of the entire community. Graduating from CHS’s Parenting Education Program is no easy feat, as parents must complete a series of 7 classes; last year, the graduation rate was over 90%.


(Added in 2015)

Positive Behavioral Interventions Supports (PBIS)

There is a strong understanding that students do better in all areas of development, including social/emotional when there is an improvement in school climate.  The Monterey County Office of Education is promoting Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports (PBIS) as the county wide model to improve school climate.  Monterey County Behavioral Health (MCBH) has partnered with all school districts to assist in the training and support of PBIS.  MCBH provides support to the school districts thanks to the Mental Health Services Act/Prop 63 funding.
The key population of focus to be served includes:
• All school aged children (ages 5 to 18)
• All children in Monterey County, which includes a diverse ethnic and cultural population with a significant number identifying as Latino.
• This program serves all regions and all 25 school districts.
Program Goals and Outcomes:
• The program hopes to improve school climate which will reduce the number of students referred for social/emotional problems, particularly anxiety and depressive disorders.
• This program improves clients’ quality of life by improving school success, reducing bullying and improved social/emotional development.
• The goals and outcomes for this program include lower dropout rate, higher college enrollment, less drug use, lower teen pregnancy rate, less bullying, less suicidal ideation.
Public Health benefit:
• The public health benefits and benefits to the community include the reduction of students being referred for depression and anxiety issues.  The students perform better in school which will not only improve their academics but makes it more likely they will stay in school, not be involved in criminal activity, drug use or unwanted pregnancy.
• This program helps address disparities and engage underserved populations by involving all students at all levels by improving the general school climate.  While “raising the level of the lake, all boats float higher,” the improved school climate helps those underserved and alienated students the most.


Social Work Program & Mental Health First Aid

CSUMB Social Work ProgramMonterey County Behavioral Health has partnered with California State University Monterey Bay (CSUMB) and other community partners to incorporate regional community needs into the MSW program, monitor the implementation of scholarships for MSW students, and coordinate field placements for current MSW students and bachelor level students seeking to get into the program.  The program graduated its third cohort in May2014 and received national accreditation in July 2014.

Mental Health First AidIn collaboration with the Monterey County Office of Education (MCOE), the Behavioral Health Bureau is offering Mental Health First Aid courses to enhance our community’s capacity to offer initial help to people showing signs of a mental illness or in a crisis, and connect them with the appropriate professional, peer, social, or self-help care. The 8-hour Mental Health First Aid course is available for anyone 18 years and older who wants to learn how to help a person who may be experiencing a mental health crisis or problem and/or who works with young people, ages 12-18 — teachers, coaches, leaders of faith communities, social workers, and other caring citizens.

monterey county

Click the photo to view the video.


Success Stories

Difference in the community

Prop 63 has expanded Monterey County Behavioral Health Bureau’s capacity to provide needed services and collaborations with community non-profits, government partners, and the California Mental Health Services Authority (CalMHSA) to implement Each Mind Matters and Know the Signs. [Lisa Corpuz] OMNI Resource Center: Prop 63 has made everything we do at OMNI possible. Without Prop 63, our clients would have less support in their recovery and would not have a safe, accepting environment in which to learn new skills and focus on their recovery OMNI Resource Center: Through the support they received here, several people were able to recover from their challenges enough to start school or go back to work. A great example is one person who volunteered for us. The volunteer work raised his self-esteem so much, he was able to get a job working for Interim. The job was only a couple of hours per week, but pretty soon, he was able to get a full-time job. He is now engaged and looking to move to another apartment with his future wife. Another person who attended our off-site support groups was experiencing depression. Through the support she received from the groups, she was able to recover and has now returned to school and is currently working towards her BA. Another example of success is a client who experienced addiction to illegal substances. She began attending the center three years ago; she had difficulty controlling her anger, and was still struggling with the urge to use drugs. All of this was on top of a bad living situation, fear of an ex-husband who was in jail, and her struggles with mental health challenges. This client first attended our transitional age youth group. She discovered that having fun and enjoying life didn’t have to involve drugs, and that her life was worth living. Her self-esteem continued to increase and she found herself in a leadership role. As she recovered, she moved to a better location which happened to be closer to the center. She started attending the core program in addition to the TAY group. Her anger started coming under control and her urge to use decreased. She became part of OMNI’s Advisory Council (made up entirely of consumers who help guide staff with running the center) and a strong voice for recovery of her peers. She also started working with Interim’s Dual Recover Services, helping others struggling with addiction to achieve more with their recovery. She is currently working with her social worker to move from a residential care home to supported housing.