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2020 Q1 Newsletter

The COVID-19 public health crisis is increasingly challenging to the mental and emotional health of our community.

Be Well OC Announces “Help Happens Here”

The COVID-19 public health crisis is increasingly challenging to the mental and emotional health of our community. In response to growing community need, the public, private, academic and faith-based partners of Be Well OC rallied to create a new support site: “Help Happens Here.” This platform was designed as an easy way to access the many excellent mental health and related support services across Orange County, and to connect those in need with emphatic, solution-focused assistance during this difficult and unprecedented time. Whether you’re an individual in need or a non-profit organization mobilizing to help, this site will ease the way in connecting to useful information and support.

A heartfelt thank you to all those who responded so quickly to contribute to the content of this site, and the volunteer army of empathic listeners to support the Covid-19 chat support line. We will continue to increase and improve the content and features here to best help the community through this extraordinary time. Please provide feedback on your experience and additional features you’d like to have here.

Together, we’ll stay connected, support each other, and work to ensure all residents of Orange County can and will Be Well.

We’d like to thank the many individuals and organizations that continue sharing ideas and content to further enhance the benefit of this site for the community. And special thanks the Be Well partners below that sprang so quickly into action together to get things started:

 Abrazar, Inc.

Diana Mejia

Access California Services

Nahla Kayali

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention OC

Nancy Cooper

Cal State Fullerton

Dr Mikyong Kim-Go

Chapman University

Dr Naveen Jonathan

CHOC Children’s

Dr. Heather Huszti

Council on Aging

Dr. Michelle Jo Park


Dr Michaell Rose & Sahar Naraghi-Babaei

Korean Community Services

Ellen Ahn, JD, MSW & Sammy Sohn, LCSW

MECCA. Multi-Ethnic Collaborative of Community Agencies

Iliana Soto-Welty

The Mental Health Collective

Dr. Anna McCarthy

Mission Hospital

Christy Cornwall, LSCW & Dr. Diana Linn


Dr Miriam Harris, Amy Durham, Steve Pitman


Dr Jeff Nagel and Team

OMID Institute

Dr. Yasaman Mostajeran

OC Shrinks

Shelby Castile, LMFT

Premier First Responder Psychological Services

Dr. Heather Williams

Southland Integrated Services, Inc.

Dr. Suzie Dong


Dr Robert  McCarron & Dr Aaron Kheriaty

Wellness & Prevention Center

Susan Parmelee, LCSW

Dr. Susana Salgado & Cindy Brooks, LMFT



Partner Highlight: Orange County Department of Education & CHOC Children’s

The spread of COVID-19 and the closure of Orange County schools is a difficult situation for families and schools. Recognizing this, CHOC Children’s and Orange County Department of Education (OCDE), are guiding parents and students through COVID-19 with information and resources to ease the fear and stress they feel during this time.

OCDE is maintaining a comprehensive newsroom with updated information on school closure timelines, at-home learning tips and grab-and-go meals. To reach students at home, OCDE is expanding its resources using platforms like Canvas, which facilitates digital learning, and PBS SoCal, which is broadcasting standards-based educational content. OCDE’s Deaf and Hard of Hearing team created an uplifting message for students who can’t be at school and are probably missing other aspects of life in Orange County — like trips to Disneyland. Take a moment to watch the video here.

In addition to treating the children of Orange County and beyond, CHOC Children’s is providing the community with helpful COVID-19 resources on its website for parents to navigate the physical and mental health concerns of their children. CHOC Children’s also created a nurse Q&A resource and a 24/7 nurse line at 1-844-GET-CHOC for concerned parents with questions about COVID-19. To help parents mediate their children’s mental health during COVID-19, a CHOC Children’s pediatric psychologist created a guide for parents and children to cope with anxiety.


Results Area Highlights

Hundreds of engaged organizations and individuals have given their hearts, minds and time to developing detailed action plans for the six result areas, leading us into our community’s transformative 2020 year. These six work plans are critical to advancing our shared mission of a world-class system of mental health care for all residents of Orange County. Click here for a recap of the highlights from each result area.

Result Area 1: Reduce Stigma

Strategic Priorities Identified:

  • Adopt a common language to talk about mental health, mental illness & substance use
  • Coordinate and align existing stigma reduction efforts
  • Increase compassion and empathy about mental health.

Highlights of Progress Made in 2020:

  • Formed two workgroups to tackle the selected strategies and activities
  • Developing a community survey to validate common language and messages
  • Identifying key informants to interview
  • Identifying current stigma reduction efforts for opportunities to align
Result Area 2: Prevent and Act Early

Strategic Priorities Identified:

  • Promote resilience, protective factors, and positive support of social determinants of health
  • Improve early detection and diagnosis of mental health illnesses and substance use disorders across care settings
  • Increase outreach, education, and engagement for community families, behavioral health and primary care providers, and allied professionals

Highlights of Progress Made in 2020:

  • All population-specific workgroups—prenatal to five years old, school-aged children, and older adults—have selected their strategies and activities of focus for 2020
  • Population-specific workgroups have been formed to begin tackling the selected activities
  • Forming a transitional age youth with the leadership of Social Services Administration and Western Youth Services
Result Area 3: Close Treatment Gaps and Improve Access

Strategic Priorities Identified:

  • Standardize intake and screening protocols across care settings
  • Standardize transition of care protocols between care systems and levels of care
  • Expand MH/SUD provider network and expertise of MH and SUD workforce

Highlights of Progress Made in 2020:

  • Selected strategies and activities of focus
  • Breakout workgroups have been formed to target activities selected
  • Working with the Behavioral Health Training Collaborative to support in identifying training needs of the MH and SUD workforce
Result Area 4: Strengthen Crisis Response

Strategic Priorities Identified:

  • Create a single, integrated mental health crisis navigation and resource system
  • Support expansion of Crisis Stabilization Units (CSUs)
  • Develop family support tool kit

Highlights of Progress Made in 2020:

  • Created and launched a digital platform to meet the urgent and emerging mental health needs associated with COVD-19
  • A study of the current crisis response system is underway.  Opportunities for improvement and public-private resource integration are being explored.
  • Developing CSU referral/discharge protocols & Family Support Tool Kit
Result Area 5: Establish Community Wellness Hubs

Strategic Priorities Identified:

  • Operationalize the first Be Well OC Regional Campus, in alignment with the progress in construction
  • Contracting and licensing the services, establishing clinical protocols and workflows, and defining metrics for transparency
  • Ensuring participation and support from vital stakeholder groups, including law enforcement, hospitals, supportive services, consumers, etc. in all efforts

Highlights of Progress Made in 2020:

  • See above
Result Area 6: Align Partners, Policies and Programs
  • Convene “Mapping it Out” sessions
  • Align collaborative grant and funding opportunities
  • Align efforts to inform and prepare for state and local policy changes

Highlights of Progress Made in 2020:

  • Opportunities/strategies identified for aligning, coordinating, and leveraging existing work
  • Established Be Well Orange County Stewardship Group


Be Well OC Campus Update

Like Covid-19, mental health and substance use disorders do not discriminate. This extraordinary situation underscores the need for easy access to comprehensive, integrated mental health and substance use services, regardless of one’s insurance. This first Be Well OC Regional Wellness Campus serves as a model of such a resource, made possible through public-private partnership for all in the community.

Great progress continues with the construction of the first campus in the City of Orange. The walls are up, and the building is now taking shape. Construction is on schedule for completion in Dec 2020, and services will open in phases for the community beginning in Jan 2021.

Involving the community in planning and design is central to informing a positive healing experience for those receiving care. Individuals with lived experience and family members came together in early March to give feedback about the interior design aspects of the campus. Engagement efforts are also underway with community professionals, including law enforcement, hospital emergency departments, and other critical stakeholders in the Be Well ecosystem that will utilize the campus.


Q1 Be Well OC Coalition Meeting

More than 200 people joined the Be Well OC Coalition Web Meeting on March 19, dedicating valuable time as they balance competing priorities in this unprecedented moment. In addition to several updates highlighting great work across Be Well OC, the meeting focused on an introduction to the Behavioral Health System Transformation Innovation Project from Dr. Jeff Nagel, Dr. Clayton Chau, and Dr. Karen Linkins.  After the meeting, participants were asked to complete a short survey to provide feedback that will inform the next phases of this project. A recording of the meeting is available here and the slides can be accessed here. After reviewing the meeting materials, please complete the short survey available here.


Announcing the Be Well OC Stewardship Group

To activate Be Well OC’s distributed leadership structure and support the many organizations actively engaged in advancing the work realizing the aims of the six result areas, the Stewardship Group will provide two primary functions:

  1. Promote alignment of strategies and activities across the varied work streams of the six results outlined in the blueprint
  2. Support broad community engagement and meaningful participation in Be Well activities by establishing and overseeing criteria for backbone organizations, impact organizations and critical community voices/stakeholder participation

Be Well Stewardship Group Representatives

  • Result Areas
    • Result 1: Iliana Soto-Welty
    • Result 2: Dianna Daly
    • Result 3: Edwin Poon
    • Result 4: Susan Taylor
    • Result 5: Michaell Rose
    • Result 6: Nichole Quick
  • Family Member
    • Steve Pitman
  • Peers
    • Acting representatives identified
    • Continuing positions to be filled by Sept. 2020 via application process
  • At-Large Subject Matter Experts
    • Anne Light
    • Jeff Nagel
  • Transition Age Youth/Young Adults
    • To be filled by Sept. 2020 via application process

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