Future youth mental health clinics may ease high demand for counseling services


Katherine Wang

The California Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission has approved 15 million dollars in funding to open two youth mental health clinics in the Bay Area. These free clinics are projected to open within the next few years, one in San Jose and the other in either Mountain View or Palo Alto. The project is the result of a partnership between Santa Clara County and Stanford University’s Center for Youth Mental Health and Wellbeing.

These clinics, based off an Australian model called Headspace, will emphasize early intervention for mental illness and substance abuse and provide easily accessible counseling.  They also aim to help accommodate long waitlists for affordable mental health services in our area.

The Community Health Awareness Council (CHAC) in Mountain View has been grappling with a lengthy waitlist as an increased number of students from the Mountain View-Los Altos area seek mental health counseling. According to Amrita Bassi, the CHAC intake coordinator, there has been about a 10-15% increase of students on the CHAC waitlist.

Bassi credits some of this increase to the closing of the John F. Kennedy University Counseling Center. “When a mental health agency or clinic closes, it has a huge impact, a negative impact I think, on our area because there’s such a lack of resources in the mental health field,” Bassi said.

In order to accommodate the increase of mental health services needed for the long run, Bassi believes it would be more effective to increase the number of therapists, rather than continuously opening more clinics.  

According to Bassi, CHAC has introduced 60 new therapists this year to accommodate to meet the demand.  “Increasing the number of therapists also raises new concerns for clinics including clinical supervision and a sufficient amount of rooms.” Bassi said.

“If there are any clinics that are opening up or if we [CHAC]can expand in any way possible, it’s always going to be beneficial to our community…it’s important that they get the services that they need, and they shouldn’t have to wait forever for that. They should get it when they need it,” Bassi said.

The CHAC main office in Mountain View provides affordable mental health counseling and information to local youth