CCCOE Releases Resource Guide

CCCOE Releases Resource Guide to Help Parents Navigate Substance Abuse and Mental Health Concerns in Teens
Posted on 08/14/2023
PLEASANT HILL, Calif.— Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE) has developed a new online guide titled, “Substance Use, Mental Health, & Teens: A Guide for Parents & Other Caring Adults,” which focuses on resources to protect and care for teens facing substance abuse and mental health challenges. Created by the agency’s Tobacco Use Prevention Education (TUPE) department, the resource was inspired by April Rovero, Founder/ Director of National Coalition Against Prescription Drug Abuse (NCAPDA), to equip adults with knowledge and resources they need to support young people in their lives to make positive decisions regarding their health.

Rovero lost her son to a prescription overdose in 2008 when he consumed a prescribed medication with alcohol while attending college at Arizona State University. After his death, Rovero’s passion has been to increase awareness about the dangers of prescription drug abuse/misuse and to provide overdose rescue training and naloxone distribution.

“Thanks to our contributing community partners and especially the Contra Costa County Office of Education for running with my initial concept and creating this wonderful support tool for parents of middle and high school students,” Rovero said. “Understanding the reality of mental health issues and substance use exposure among youth can be challenging for parents, guardians, and other caring adults. This guide provides vital information that can serve as both an educational tool and roadmap for raising healthy and resilient youth.”

“This topic is especially important to me because I, like so many others, have been affected by substance use and addiction,” Contra Costa County Superintendent of Schools Lynn Mackey said. “This guidebook includes real facts versus myths when talking about teens, drugs, and mental health. It is an invaluable resource for families in our county because the information is in English and Spanish with easy-to-understand details, informing readers and giving them access to local supports. Thank you to our TUPE team and community partners for working together to make this guidebook a reality.”

Data collected by CCCOE’s TUPE department shows an increased interest in Contra Costa County for parent/family education, particularly with tobacco use among young people, driven by e-cigarettes/vaping, as well as the changing landscape of cannabis legalization, alarming news of fentanyl-related deaths, and increases in the number of young people reporting feelings of chronic sadness and thoughts of suicide. The guide dives deeper into mental health matters for youth, stating one (1) in five (5) youth experience a mental health challenge in their life. It walks parents through how to respond to teen wellness concerns, giving them tangible things adults can do and say to help teens feel connected and protected.

Contra Costa County has a large demographic of Spanish speaking families. CCCOE and community partners are working hard to connect with this community and provide vital resources in Spanish that can help save lives. According to the 2019-2021 countywide California Healthy Kids Survey (CHKS) data, administered in most Contra Costa County secondary schools, 19 percent of grade seven students report Spanish as the language spoken most of the time in their home.

“Having the guide translated into Spanish was a priority for this project,” Maritza Monterrosa, Alcohol and Other Drugs Parent Navigator at Contra Costa Health said. “It is a beginning and the bridge to erase the barriers of the Latino community in creating awareness on issues related to substance use. This guide will help families navigate, empower, and educate them to take the initiative to talk with their children to help them reach their full potential.”

In sync with TUPE, Contra Costa Crisis Center, also known as 211, reports mental health concerns are among the top topics flooding the crisis hotline. During 2022, 211 and the Contra Costa Crisis Center received more than 72,000 calls, which is an all-time high. The community organization trains volunteers to answer confidential calls twenty-four (24) hours a day, seven (7) days a week when county residents are seeking help or are in crisis. Getting the guidebook into the hands of families and those that work with children is important because many people in Contra Costa County are not aware of 211, 988, or the many local resources that can help them during a crisis.

"Anxiety, stress, depression, suicide, grief, and mental health in general are among the main reasons residents in our county call us,” Tom Tamura, Executive Director of Contra Costa Crisis Center, said. “Schools continue to be a place where children and families gain support and learn about resources. By making this guidebook available to schools and families, we can connect with children in crisis much faster, make assessments, and provide the services and referrals needed. This guidebook puts resources all in one place.”

Collaboration with Contra Costa County Crisis Center was key when CCCOE’s TUPE team set out to create the first of its kind guide for families in the county.

“Parents and other caring adults are incredibly important as partners in our prevention work,” Emily Justice, CCCOE TUPE Manager, said. “We have made a concerted effort to ensure that families have access to credible information and relevant resources, and this guide is another way to extend our efforts to reach more adults.”

CCCOE’s TUPE team collaborated with more than a dozen educators and community partners to create a guide with tips for addressing mental health and substance abuse with teens. Tips in the guidebook cover educating yourself about substances and mental health, conversation starters for talking with teens, and how to connect with local resources when someone you love is struggling with drugs, tobacco, and/or an unhealthy mental state.

"I am elated to help distribute this invaluable guidebook to families in Contra Costa County,” Shameka Bolds, Environmental Programs Supervisor at Community Health for Asian Americans, said. “Mental health and substance use prevention are issues that touch the lives of many youth within our community. By disseminating this guide, we aim to break down barriers and stigmas surrounding mental health, encouraging open conversations and a culture of support. As I reach out to families with this resource, I envision a community that is more compassionate, understanding, and well-equipped to address mental health challenges."

In addition to the guidebook, the CCCOE TUPE team will roll out related parent/guardian workshops soon, bringing content and resources in the guide to life through interactive activities and discussion.


About Contra Costa County Office of Education
One of 58 counties in California, Contra Costa County has the 11th largest public-school student population in the state (approximately 169,225 students). Officially established in 1932, CCCOE has a long history of providing direct services to some of our county's most vulnerable students, including young people who are incarcerated, homeless, or in foster care, as well as students who have severe physical or emotional challenges.

CCCOE also provides support services to schools and school districts in Contra Costa County; services that can be handled most effectively and economically on a regional basis rather than by each of the county's 260 schools or 18 school districts. These services range from budget approval and fiscal support to technology infrastructure, communication support, and high-level professional development opportunities for educators. CCCOE maintains a website at
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