Expanding the Mental Health Talent Pipeline for Northern Sonoma County

Pictured: MHTP students and recent graduates with USF professor Dr. Daniela Dominguez celebrate at Noche de Amor.

The Healthcare Foundation launched the Mental Health Talent Pipeline (MHTP) scholarship program in 2018 as part of its strategic focus on mental health and in direct response to the severe shortage of bilingual, bicultural mental health professionals in our region of northern Sonoma County. The MHTP program covers full-tuition and traineeship stipends for bilingual, bicultural students pursuing a Master of Arts degree at USF Santa Rosa’s
counseling psychology Marriage and Family Therapy program (or an equivalent program at another school) who commit to working in the mental health field in north county.

Students Supported in 2022

Thanks to the commitment of our generous donors and community partners, the MHTP program has so far provided crucial support to eighteen participants. Twelve MHTP students are currently completing their graduate degrees. Total support for participants in 2022 was $146,650.

Looking Ahead

The missing link in the MHTP pipeline is the opportunity for our third-year students to participate in supervised traineeships in Spanish. During their third year, MFT students provide therapy to clients under the supervision of an experienced, licensed therapist, and for our students that has often meant translating client issues to English-speaking supervisors. With ARPA funds provided through Redwood Community Health Coalition, we are now funding Dr. Daniela Dominguez of On the Margins, and Dr. Maria Alvarez, to develop a state-of-the-art bilingual, bicultural clinical training program to be launched in 2023 with a focus on MFT trainees in Cloverdale, along with an educational curriculum to be taught in Spanish that will be available to other trainees, as well as licensed therapists, throughout Sonoma County.

A Note from Board Member Daisy Cardenas

I am a first-generation graduate student, a circumstance made possible in part by the MHTP program. Having received my master’s degree in May of this year, along with four other recipients of the Healthcare Foundation’s Mental Health Talent Pipeline scholarship, I am now a Marriage and Family Therapist working in north county. I’m also a proud member of the Board of the Healthcare Foundation, where I have a seat at the table in addressing
the most pressing health issues facing our underserved communities.

The MHTP program grew out of an urgent need for accessible mental health services for Spanish-speaking people in our region. Its vision was to address that need by supporting the talent and initiative of aspiring bilingual and bicultural mental health professionals right here in northern Sonoma County.

That vision, originally brainstormed by Marc and Jeanie Kahn and former Healthcare Foundation Executive Director Debbie Mason, also took the long
view—seeing a place for people like me and my fellow MHTP cohort in the broader future of our region. Marc, who is now a fellow Board member
of the Healthcare Foundation, where he continues to help grow the MHTP program, not long ago recalled the expansive nature of that vision, which the Healthcare Foundation is making good on today. “It’s not just providing mental healthcare to the community,” he explained. “We’re hoping that we
can inspire leadership. . . Going forward we expect to see former participants in the Mental Health Talent Pipeline in upper leadership in healthcare organizations, maybe running for political office. That, I think, is the secondary benefit of this program.”

For more information about the individuals supported by the MHTP program, please see https://healthcarefoundation.net/projects/mental-health-talent-pipeline-project/.

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