Cal Poly Researchers to Assess LGBTQ Mental Health Services in San Luis Obispo County

SAN LUIS OBISPO — The Queer Community Action, Research, Education, and Support (QCARES) team, led by Cal Poly psychology Professor Dr. Jay Bettergarcia, received a $25,000 grant from San Luis Obispo County Behavioral Health through the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) to evaluate mental health services for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGTBQ+) individuals in San Luis Obispo County.

QCARES is contracted to assess the quality of local services offered and to identify the barriers to mental health care for the LGBTQ+ community. The grant represents the first time San Luis Obispo County MHSA funds have been used to target LGBTQ+ mental health and wellness.

QCARES is seeking LGBTQ-identifying individuals 14 and older to participate in a survey or in a focus group, or both, to help researchers learn more about access to services, barriers to accessing care, and experiences with support services in San Luis Obispo County.

Results of study will be used to create community development initiatives that support LGBTQ mental health and wellness across San Luis Obispo County. Bettergarcia says the need for quality services in the county is clear. According to the 2015 California Healthy Kids Survey, approximately 48 percent of LGBTQ+ youth in San Luis Obispo County report having seriously considered attempting suicide in the past 12 months. Further, in a survey of LGBTQ+ community members, LGBTQ-supportive mental health services and youth services were among the top-rated service needs in San Luis Obispo County (according to the Growing Together Initiative Executive Summary, 2015).

“Using community-based action research, we hope to create innovative mental health programs, develop an infrastructure of trained LGBTQ-affirming therapists in San Luis Obispo County, and help address some of the issues that are most relevant to LGBTQ mental health and wellness,” Bettergarcia said.

For more information about the project, visit

The Queer Community Action, Research, Education, and Support (QCARES) was created to bridge a gap between research and action within LGBTQ+ communities to create lasting change. The group uses community-based participatory action research to engage with individuals across various underserved communities as they seek to understand common challenges and develop innovative solutions. QCARES is driven by evidence and data to create social change and influence policy. QCARES was developed by Cal Poly psychology Professor Jay Bettergarcia, and the team hopes to connect and educate through research, trainings and community involvement. Visit

Contact: Jay Bettergarcia
(805) 756-6178;

October 12, 2018

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