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California Children and Youth Behavioral Health Initiative Toolkit

California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) recently announced a Request for Application (RFA) for the Children and Youth Behavioral Health Initiative (CYBHI). 

DHCS will award grants, totaling $100M, to scale trauma-informed programs and practices throughout California to support wellness and build resilience of children, youth, and those individuals who are close to them. Interested parties are encouraged to apply for training and/or implementation funding using this application form by April 10, 2023, at 5:00 p.m. 

DHCS is seeking proposals from individuals, schools, and districts for grant funding totaling $100 million to scale evidence-based practices whose focuses include: 

  • Increasing early intervention
  • Supporting resilience of youth by mitigating the adverse effects of ACES
  • Cultivating safe and stable learning environments
  • Improving the availability of services for pregnant and parenting people
  • Reducing health disparities by improving access to services that are culturally responsive

Mind Matters: Overcoming Adversity and Building Resilience addresses these key areas, has significant evidence as to its efficacy, and can be readily scaled to both youth and the adults who care about them in a wide variety of settings.

According to the funder, applicants may propose to use an EBP that is not on the list, such as Mind Matters, so long as they include the following information about its evidence in their application. 

g. Additional Practices and Programs Relating to Trauma-Informed Programs and Practices

This section is to be completed by applicants that are submitting a proposal for a program or practice, like Mind Matters, that is not included in the list of eligible programs and practices in Section 1.3 “Purpose.”

a. Program Overview

Mind Matters: Overcoming Adversity and Building Resilience supports the healing process in people who have experienced Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and other traumas. This research-based curriculum offers strategies to help teens and adults understand the effects of adversity and toxic stress, then teaches them skills to soothe and calm their mental and physical stress responses.

Mind Matters helps clear away barriers to focus and learning. People who have experienced trauma often have difficulty regulating their emotional and verbal responses to common life situations and relationships. In 12 lessons, the course builds participants’ resiliency by healing their brains, their health, and their lives.

Each lesson in the curriculum includes activities on increasing hope, overcoming adversity, and building resilience. These practical, hands-on activities and techniques can be implemented immediately, giving people tools to improve their lives starting with the very first lesson. The program also centers on practice. Participants learn that “practice makes progress, not perfection,” and are given the space to progress at their own pace.

Mind Matters is flexibly designed to meet the needs of the program and participants. The curriculum was written to be facilitated by non-clinicians using simple practices that can be utilized in a variety of settings. Individual lessons and their accompanying activities are easily integrated into existing programs as shorter time blocks or one-hour lessons.

Mind Matters focuses on six major goals:

  1. Utilize Self-Soothing Skills
  2. Develop an Observing Self
  3. Strengthen Relationships
  4. Compassion for the Hijacked Brain
  5. Practice Self-Care
  6. Live Intentionally

The skills taught in Mind Matters are designed to be practiced over a lifetime. The curriculum is not meant to be group therapy or to replace psychotherapy. Rather, it is a psycho-educational program designed to inspire, uplift, and set people on the journey of healing as they cultivate deeper resilience.

b. Target population (e.g., parents/caregivers, infants, children) (Max 500 words)

Mind Matters is targeted to people ages 12 and up. It has been successfully implemented in schools, group homes, family resource centers, home visitor programs, correctional settings, run-away and homeless youth programs, violence prevention programs and more.

c. Program goals (e.g., supporting the resilience of children and youth affected by ACEs, improving grief support for children and youth) (Max 500 words)

Self-regulation and building resiliency in youth, who have experienced ACES and toxic stress, are the foundations of the program. As participants understand how trauma shapes the brain and learn to pair existing negative thoughts with self-soothing skills, they begin to take charge of their lives and improve their states of mind. Through Mind Matters, people learn to address physical, relational, mental, and spiritual needs that are essential to increase their quality of life. They see that they are already the hero in their own life’s story.

As a psycho-educational program facilitated by non-clinicians, Mind Matters provides early intervention for youth before conditions escalate and require higher levels of care.

Mind Matters is being effectively used with parents, caregivers, and others who are close to young people by addressing their own traumas and stressors as well as giving them tools to respond to the same in the young people they care for. 

Mind Matters has been used as a trauma informed practice within child-serving agencies. It gives personnel the tools to connect with clients who are impacted by trauma and stress in their lives. It also addresses secondary trauma in staff who often \ frequently experience stress as a result of their work with system involved youth. 

Mind Matters supports students who have experienced loss, grief, and trauma in their lives through the research-backed skills that help young people deal with their pain and loss while building hope for their future.

Cultivate safe and stable learning environments that model trauma-informed approaches to working with children.

The Mind Matters curriculum plays an essential role in a trauma-informed organization. Mind Matters goes beyond knowing how to respond to a victim of trauma by laying out a plan of action for that person to move towards their own healing. 

Mind Matters can be used by teachers to create a safe place for students, teach self-soothing skills, and help their school by developing practices that build the students’ personal resilience (MTSS-Tier 1). The program can also be used by school staff to work with smaller groups of young people who need additional support (MTSS-Tier 2).

Mind Matters content addresses many of the goals for social and emotional learning (SEL) in schools including the five SEL competencies: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision making.

Reduce health disparities by improving equitable access to services for parents, caregivers, and children in California that are culturally and linguistically responsive to the needs of the populations of focus.

Mind Matters may be delivered in person or virtually, improving access to the content for people who may experience transportation, time, or technology barriers. 

Additionally, Mind Matters welcomes cultural adaptations to many of the practices in the program including music, movement, mindfulness, and self-soothing skills to make them a better fit for participants. 

The Mind Matters Journal is available in Spanish. The Dibble Institute is pleased to partner with organizations to translate the Journal to meet the linguistic needs of their populations.

Mind Matters Now, recordings of the program being taught by the developer for adults is available at no charge, which reduces barriers to use by caregivers.

d. Program delivery (e.g., recommended intensity, duration, delivery setting) (Max 500 words)

Mind Matter consists of 12 one-hour lessons or 21 15-20 minute one to one sessions. 

Lessons may be delivered to groups in schools, out-of-school settings, community-based organizations, group homes, and correctional systems to young people (12+) and adults alike. Classes may be delivered every few days or once a week.

Mind Matters has also been adapted for use by home visitors with parents with young children. The 21 one-to-one sessions are typically presented weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly.

e. Manuals and training (e.g., if they practice is manualized, level of training required, training modality) (File upload)

Mind Matters consists of an Instructor’s Manual and Participant Journal, which are available for review online. Instructions for accessing them are below. Annotated PowerPoints have been prepared and should be used with each lesson so that the facilitator covers the content with fidelity.

While training is not required, there are clear benefits for facilitators and organizational staff to attend a Mind Matters training. Questions may arise from participants about why they are learning certain practices or they may wonder why a practice works. Facilitator training provides an opportunity to understand the “how” and the “why” of the program. The facilitator will see how the lessons and exercises are framed and modeled, and they will have an opportunity to practice with skilled trainers. All this allows for more confidence and competence when they do start teaching.

Training is conducted virtually for 3.5 hours a day over 5 days. Training is very interactive. Trainees leave feeling confident and competent in their ability to facilitate the materials 

Access instructions to a 15-day review copy of Mind Matters:

  1. Click here:
  2. Create an account using the “Register” button under “Sign in” at the top right of the screen, or sign in if you already have an account. 3
  3. Then click here
  4. Enter this unlock code: MindMatters15
  5. Click the “Accept Free Offer” button on the subsequent screen. 
  6. You will find your review copy under the “My Bookshelf” tab at the top of the screen.

People experiencing ongoing stress or prior trauma often have difficulty regulating their emotional responses when facing challenges in school and work, life and relationships. As participants learn the skills and strategies in Mind Matters, they can begin to take charge of themselves and their responses to what life throws at them. Participants learn to address their physical, relational, and mental health needs.

In addition, Mind Matters’  teaches individuals proven ways to deal with stressful, perhaps adverse, life experiences using  innovative methods based on  current research and neuroscience.

Mind Matters is an effective, research-based psycho-educational program that has produced significant results in decreasing PTSD symptoms and increasing trauma coping skills. It can be easily implemented by teachers and other non-clinicians who want to help people heal from their trauma. The engaging and ready-to-teach lessons give facilitators the confidence to cover sensitive content in a caring way.  It is ready to use with many audiences with little need for time-consuming alterations or adaptations.

Mind Matters is an evidence-based program with a manual. Fidelity tools are available for the facilitator to use to check themselves or for an observer to use to assure that all activities in the lesson are taught.

For EBPs, include mention of the scientific evidence base that supports key outcomes related to the RFA (e.g., RCTs, peer- reviewed journal articles) as well as the rating from relevant clearinghouses, if applicable (California Evidence-Based Clearinghouse for Child Welfare24, Title IV-E Prevention Services Clearinghouse25, Federal Evidence-Based Practices Resource Center26)

The conclusions from an RCT of Mind Matters at the University of Louisville were:

In a particularly high risk and diverse sample of youth with trauma histories greatly exceeding national averages, the Mind Matters program resulted in a significant increase in coping skills and decrease in PTSD symptoms for the experimental group. There was an increase in resiliency and social competence for both groups, suggesting that the program and general treatment setting may both have contributed to improvements over time.

Antle, B.F., et al. (2021). Mind Matters Comprehensive Evaluation Final Report Brief Summary. Read the Full Report here.

Mind Matters has been successfully implemented in the following programs:

Dr. Vincent Felitti, co-principle investigator of the CDC-Kaiser Permanente Adverse Childhood Experiences Study once said that there weren’t enough therapists in the world to help people who suffer from the effects of childhood trauma.

He believed that people in the helping professions — teachers, clergy, emergency medical technicians, home visitors, youth workers, etc. — could be provided education and tools to help others heal.

Mind Matters is just that. It’s a well-written, well thought-out, and tested 12-hour course. It can stand alone or be integrated into other courses. It can be used with people of all ages–including teens, youth, and adults–in schools, community-based organizations, the justice system, foster care, shelters, and group homes. The instructors’ manual is a remarkably clear and concise guide.

Dr. Carolyn Curtis and Charles Stolzenbach have truly created a gift to the community of people looking for a way to help others learn about just how normal childhood adversity is, how profound its effects are on our brains, bodies, lives, and communities, and, most importantly, how to soothe and heal ourselves.

For that is where healing begins, within ourselves. From there we can continue to pay forward this new knowledge of human behavior and help people help themselves heal, with this toolkit tucked under our arms.

Jane Stevens, Founder, Founder, PACEs Connection 

Our community coalition is piloting this curriculum in a nearby high school. We reviewed multiple curricula that addressed increasing emotional coping and resilience skills and felt this appeared to be the easiest to use for instructors, was evidence informed (though we would love to see a stronger evidence base backing it, but we do believe in the work!), and encompassed most of the objectives we were looking for. It also was reasonably priced as well which is important when considering school budgets.

We are most driven by “doing the right thing” to work upstream of the chronic health issues and mounting costs that are plaguing our system. Empowering patients and our communities with the tools to be healthy and well will serve us all better in the long run.

Natasha Ward, RDN, CD

Director of Community Health Improvement, Western Wisconsin Health

Mind Matters has been implemented using a variety of funding including:

  • Violence Prevention
  • Runaway and Homeless Youth
  • School Budgets
  • Hospital Benefit Funds
  • Private Foundations
  • ACES Aware

Mind Matters is highly sustainable since once a facilitator (most often non-clinical) is trained, then ongoing expenses are only for the participants’ manuals, which are a key part of the learning modality.

The Dibble Institute supports its clients with notification of federal, state, and private funding opportunities as well as the tools needed to apply for them. We also frequently consult with clients to explore specific funding in their region.

There may come a time when a psycho-educational program like Mind Matters will be billable to MediCAL and other health insurers as a way to address chronic health issues and mounting costs, thus ensuring its ongoing sustainability

There are too few clinicians to care for the many people seeking relief from the suffering they experience due to prior trauma and current stressors. We need an alternative approach that can be widely implemented, at scale. 

Mind Matters is such an approach. 

It allows teachers, youth workers, case managers, and others to safely give young people and the adults who care for them both the hope and the skills to move forward. Mind Matters not only helps people deal with prior trauma but it can also help them manage ongoing stressors so it is both an early intervention program and it can also prevent or soften new traumas.  

Mind Matters invites participants to experience a variety of tools for self-soothing and for building resilience. While single practice programs have their place, we feel that providing participants with a wide range of options gives them more agency to select the tool that resonates with them for their own healing.

For the Budget

To prepare the budget portion of your application for material and training, complete this Budget Worksheet.

Mind Matters Training Package

For people applying for training funding only, we have a special Mind Matters package to make it easy for you to get trained and implement the program with confidence.

The Mind Matters Training package costs $1,900* and includes:

  • 1 seat at a Dibble certified online Mind Matters training
  • 1 Mind Matters Instructor’s Manual
  • 40 Mind Matters Participant Journals so you can get started right away.

If you are awarded a Training Grant, call 800-695-7975 or email to order the package below.


*This price includes all taxes and shipping.

Questions about how best to use Mind Matters to meet the behavioral health needs of the young people you serve? Please reach out to Kay Reed, Executive Director. KayReed at