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City, UCSF partnership aims to attract youth to mental health professions

San Francisco Mayor London Breed and the University of California San Francisco on Tuesday announced a new paid-work training program for teens and young adults interested in mental and behavioral health and psychiatry.

The new program, CHANGE SF, aims to place between eight and 10 youth or young adults between the ages of 13 and 24 in internships with UCSF’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences each academic year, according to city officials.

The interns will get hands-on experience in several disciplines, including social work, cognitive and learning disorders, trauma recovery, substance use and psychology, city officials said.

The program is part of Breed’s Opportunities for All initiative, which provides youth and young adults from low-income families and historically disadvantaged communities with job training and internships in fields like tech, finance, and health care, among others.

Breed said in a statement:

“Representation is critical across all sectors of health care, but especially mental and behavioral health. … Too many of our young people are left out of the health care profession because they do not have the skills, education, and exposure at an early age to opportunities that can transform their lives. We are working to end that. CHANGE SF will connect youth in neighborhoods and communities that have historically lacked opportunity to careers right here in San Francisco.”

As part of the CHANGE SF program, participants will get mentorship from UCSF staff and faculty, as well as access to lecture series, research labs, and other learning opportunities. Participants will be able to work at all UCSF locations, including those in the East Bay, according to city officials.

The first set of participants will begin in mid-November, city officials said.

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