Behavioral Health

It Truly is Life and Death

National Center for Biotechnology (NCIB); California Department of Public Health’s, “Preventing Violence in California” study (March 2019); Santa Barbara County Department of Social Services Program Statistics FY 13/14 thru FY 18/19 YTD thru Q3 report.

One of the starkest indications of the mental health challenges we’re facing in Santa Barbara County is the dramatic increase in our suicide rate, especially among teens. Ninety percent of those deaths are due to an underlying mental illness. As tragic as that crisis is, it’s only one indicator of the need for additional and appropriate behavioral health care.  The need continues to rise rapidly among all ages and demographics. People with less urgent, but still debilitating, problems are finding it hard to access treatment because of a shortage of psychiatrists and psychologists. Language and cultural barriers and the lingering stigma of mental health care are also impediments.

Mental health issues are more prevalent in lower-income families, but the pain of untreated illness can reach anywhere. These problems do not discriminate as to a person’s socio-economic status, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, etc. Providers in the county are struggling to meet the needs of a wide variety of people experiencing mental health challenges – our homeless, children, first responders and those with substance abuse issues.

Taking Action

The Santa Barbara Foundation’s grant committee, made up of staff, trustees, and community experts, assesses need and builds capacity for mental health services. The Foundation has created a community grant program to expand organizational capacity to increase quality, timely response, and address barriers to service.

Our Community Grants program is working to build capacity for Behavior Health Services. In our latest grant cycle, we received $1 million worth of grants submitted with only $350,000 in available resources.

If you are interested in contributing to the solutions, we welcome your partnership and appreciate your support.

Make a Gift Behavioral Health Community Grant Program

Committed through 2023


Our Strategic Priorities were chosen as a result of our investigation into how the Santa Barbara Foundation could have a meaningful impact on solving today’s most persistent problems. The Strategic Plan was the result of a multi-year process of research, data analysis, interviews, focus groups and board deliberation. Our strategic priorities for 2018-2023 are to work with our partners and donors to maintain a safety net for the vulnerable and to find creative solutions to the problems of working families.


SBF Investments in Action in Behavioral Health

Mental Wellness Center Offers Post-Disaster Support to Santa Barbara County Residents

Featured in County Connections Report: Supporting Wellness in Santa Barbara County BY QUINISHA JACKSON-WRIGHT | APRIL 2, 2019 | LEER EN ESPAÑOL In the aftermath of the Thomas Fire and 1/9 Debris Flow, residents were confronting many challenges including the physical, mental and emotional impacts of experiencing such a catastrophic series of events. Two collaborative efforts emerged to […]

Demand for Latinx Mental Health Services Reaches “All-Time High”

Featured in County Connections Report: Supporting Wellness in Santa Barbara County BY SAM WATERSTONE | APRIL 9, 2019 | LEER EN ESPAÑOL Each year, one in five Americans experiences a mental or behavioral health disorder. Seeking mental health services has long carried a negative connotation, but public perception has begun to shift in recent years. More people than […]