Building Resilient Communities: Mental and Behavioral Health Resources for San Diego Families

Positive mental health allows people to realize their full potential, cope with the stresses of life, work productively and make meaningful contributions to their communities.
Positive mental health allows people to realize their full potential, cope with the stresses of life, work productively and make meaningful contributions to their communities.

The COVID-19 crisis has exacerbated and caused adversity, trauma, tragedy, family and relationship problems, serious health problems, and workplace and financial stressors for many across the San Diego region.

These negative impacts have challenged communities’ resilience, which is defined in The San Diego Foundation’s Strategic Plan glossary as the process of adapting well in the face of these stressors.

“If COVID-19 has shown us nothing else, it’s that we need to acknowledge the mental and behavioral challenges we all face as we recover from this collective trauma,” shared Mark Stuart, TSDF President and CEO in his most recent blog, “How We Build Back Better in San Diego,” which breaks down The Foundation’s new Strategic Plan.

TSDF Board of Governors Member Dr. Pradeep Gidwani believes The Foundation is evolving into a community foundation with an impactful leadership role in addressing big issues like behavioral and mental health. According to the December 2020 report “Roadmap for Resilience: The California Surgeon General’s Report on Adverse Childhood Experiences, Toxic Stress, and Health,” Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and trauma represent an urgent public health crisis with wide-reaching health and societal impacts.

“How do we really help people change the trajectory of their lives?” Dr. Gidwani asked when sharing the motivation behind his work as a pediatrician, community health leader and Co-Chair of the Strategic Planning Task Force. 

Below is a roundup of nonprofit partners and programs in San Diego County that prevent abuse, provide mental and behavioral health services, support early interventions, address trauma, and increase health equity for young children and their families.

This list is also intended to raise awareness about the unique needs of San Diego communities, and inspire donors to give to these local organizations and join The Foundation in realizing just, equitable and resilient communities.

“Supporting families and helping parents have the tools to support their kids is really critical,” Dr. Gidwani emphasized. “We cannot be a strong community unless all of our communities are strong.”

Young Children (Ages 0-5)

American Academy of Pediatrics – California Chapter 3

The American Academy of Pediatrics – California Chapter 3 Healthy Development Services (HDS) program offers no-cost screening, assessment and delivery of developmental and behavioral treatment services for young children with mild to moderate concerns who would not otherwise qualify for existing services. The program also provides:

  • Developmental (including speech and language) services
  • Behavioral care services
  • Parent education
  • Care coordination

Arc of San Diego

The Arc’s Early Intervention Services provide support for young children, from birth to three years, who are “at-risk” or whose development has been determined to be delayed. The goal of the service is to treat children of all abilities impacted by developmental delays, recognizing that children are more likely to be delayed if they experience Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) that lead to multiple conditions of toxic stress.

Chicano Federation 

Chicano Federation received support from the COVID-19 Community Response Fund for Children’s Mental Health Consultation Services to better support the mental health of families of young children during and following the COVID-19 pandemic. Their myriad child development programs create impactful changes in the day-to-day lives of San Diego families who want to create a safe, stable life for themselves and opportunities for their children.

Diamond Educational Excellence Partnership (DEEP)

Diamond Educational Excellence Partnership is working to build a childcare provider community of care in Southeast San Diego to strengthen the capacity of family childcare providers to address the mental health needs of children ages 0 – 5 and their families through specialized trainings.

Miracle Babies

No parent hopes for a trip to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), and often families are unprepared financially for such a journey. Miracle Babies’ founding purpose is to support NICU families by lessening their financial burden so they can spend more time with their hospitalized child(ren), especially through their Transportation program.

Homeless and Foster Youth

Casa de Amparo

Casa de Amparo 

Casa de Amparo works to advance health and equity for current and former foster youth by providing direct on-site access to comprehensive physical and mental healthcare services to underserved current and former foster youth and their babies. 

Father Joe’s Villages (St. Vincent de Paul Village, Inc.)

The Therapeutic Childcare program at Father Joe’s Villages provides strong, healthy starts, combining childcare, early intervention, and mental health services to address developmental delays and the effect of trauma common among children experiencing homelessness, including those aged 0 – 5.


Promises2Kids’ coordinates care for foster system-involved children and families through myriad programming, expediting access to developmental and mental health services for young children (0 – 5) in foster care who have complex needs.

San Diego Center for Children

San Diego Center for Children provides evidence‐based therapeutic, educational, foster care and transition‐age services to children and families struggling with mental, emotional and/or behavioral (MEB) disorders.

Voices for Children

Programming at Voices for Children supports infants and toddlers (ages 0 – 5) in foster care overcoming past trauma by matching them with Court-Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteers and staff advocates who ensure that they access critical early childhood health, mental health, developmental, educational and other supportive services.

Individual and Family Services

Hannah’s House 

Hannah’s House helps support enforced court orders for supervised visitation and provides mental health services to ensure the safe, peaceful transition of families through the trauma of a family breakup, domestic violence and child abuse. They have provided virtual family services and increased measures to keep children and parents safe during in-person services during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

North County LGBTQ Resource Center

North County LGBTQ Resource Center

The North County LGBTQ Resource Center provides mental health services and other resources for low‐income and vulnerable members of the LGBTQ+ community. Since the start of the pandemic, the Center has seen a surge in the number of clients needing more frequent and intensive counseling services and case management support. In addition to mental health and counseling services, The Center provides case management support to help navigate systems of support for unemployment, housing and food insecurity.

Rady Children’s Hospital Foundation

Rady Children’s Hospital Foundation is transforming mental health by working to ensure that every child facing a mental or behavioral health challenge can live to his or her fullest potential — regardless of where they live. Their multi-week outdoor outreach program connects youth with the transformative power of the outdoors to improve mental and behavioral health as a part of whole child treatment at Rady Children’s Hospital.

San Diego American Indian Health Center 

San Diego American Indian Health Center (SDAICH) aims to reduce significant health disparities among San Diego Diego’s American Indian and under-served populations by improving the excellence of care, resulting in increased life expectancy and improved quality of life. Founded in 1979, their community health center provides comprehensive medical, dental, behavioral health and community wellness services that are available to all San Diegans. 

Somali Bantu Association of America (SBAOA)

SBAOA, part of the San Diego Refugee Community Coalition, promotes healthier home environments and supports long‐term success for children by offering culturally and linguistically relevant educational materials on youth mental and behavioral health, connecting families and their children to appropriate healthcare resources, reducing barriers to healthcare access, and offering direct support.