CHAC: Providing mental health services to schools, individuals and families

The Community Health Awareness Council works to improve lives and strengthen communities through access to comprehensive and culturally responsive mental health services.

• Mission: The Mountain View-based Community Health Awareness Council, now in its 46th year, works to improve lives and strengthen communities through access to comprehensive and culturally responsive mental health services.

CHAC provides individual mental health counseling, classes and group support services to residents of Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Mountain View, Sunnyvale and surrounding communities. The agency’s Early Intervention Counseling and Prevention programs serve one in every six students in 35 schools across four school districts, including all of the Los Altos elementary schools and the Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District.

• 2019 update: CHAC continues to play a key role in maintaining the community’s emotional safety net. CHAC’s comprehensive programs include substance abuse intervention for youth and young adults, assessments for learning and emotional challenges, family resource centers supporting parents and their children up to age 5, LGBTQ+ support and a peer-to-peer Latinx support program.

CHAC serves individuals, couples and children on a sliding income scale. The agency’s internship program cultivates innovation and high training standards for 90 new psychologist/marriage and family therapist clinicians annually.

“All of us benefit from CHAC’s programs, not just the individuals and families who receive direct help from our services,” said Marsha Deslauriers, CHAC executive director. “Healthier individuals create healthier families, who in turn create healthier and safer communities.”

During the past year, CHAC provided a crisis rapid response to a tragic need, deploying trained mental health clinicians to a school campus to help hundreds of grieving students. As a community partner, CHAC stayed for several weeks, providing extra support to facilitate healing.

“For children and families facing real-world issues such as bullying, divorce, housing or food insecurity, substance abuse/addiction issues, grief and/or a history of domestic violence, CHAC fills a critical need, providing practical help with compassion, skill and discretion,” said Ron Pilato, chief psychologist and director of clinical training.

The CHAC Board of Directors recently completed a five-year strategic plan aimed at providing schools with a fully trained crisis response team; offering four programs to serve LGBTQ+ members and families; implementing a “Safe Social Media” program through its substance and technology abuse program; increasing services to its Latinx and immigrant neighbors; and expanding programs for parents and families.

• Why the Holiday Fund is needed: CHAC serves 600 clients from Los Altos and Los Altos Hills and another 1,700 from Mountain View. Donations from individuals, organizations, foundations, local schools and cities enable CHAC to reach more than 16,000 individuals of all ages each year.

Community Health Awareness Council

Location: 590 W. El Camino Real, Mountain View

Founded: 1973

Annual budget: $4.3 million

Staff: 32 employees; 90 therapists


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