Newsletter Article

Help@Hand: Five Years of Technology Innovation in Public Mental Health

Key staff: Brittany Ganguly, Senior Program Manager/Lorena Campos, Senior Program Coordinator  

This year, CalMHSA will work with the Help@Hand collaborative of cities and counties to wrap up what has been a truly innovative, cross-county partnership designed to bring a suite of digital therapeutic technologies into the public mental health system. 

“As the quarantine came to a close, I felt like I regained motivation,” said one transitional age youth from San Mateo County who participated as a pilot user of the mental health app WYSA. “WYSA helped soothe me during times of anxiety and it helped li[gh]t the spark I needed to look after myself.”  

Help@Hand began five years ago as a multi-year demonstration project funded by the Mental Health Services Act to determine how technology might be incorporated into the behavioral health care system. Its ultimate vision is to enhance the mental health support and overall well-being of Californians by integrating technologies and real-life experiences. 

CalMHSA has administered the program through contract management, vendor management and project management for collaborative members, as well as benchmarking successful processes and tools to serve as an accelerator for members with similar needs. Examples of some projects undertaken by the 14 participating cities/counties include: 

  • Several counties have offered access to the emotional support app myStrength. 
  • Monterey County built and implemented a screening and referral tool, WellScreen Monterey. 
  • Riverside County implemented TakemyHand, a peer support platform. 
  • Many counties have distributed technology devices and provided digital literacy training. 

“Before, I had longer periods of sadness and everything. And now, with (the app) myStrength, it helped me a lot… myStrength gave you the idea to breathe, to put yourself in a quiet place, watching the sky, seeing nature,” said an isolated older adult participant in Marin County. 

Four counties concluded their Help@Hand participation in December 2023. By June 30, all counties will have completed their projects.  

For more information, visit  CalMHSA’s website. 

January 23, 2024