Proposed mental health care center in Tri-Valley

Erika Yan, Staff Writer

A few weeks ago, Dublin, Pleasanton, and Livermore voted to create a mental health care center in the Tri-Valley. This service is proposed to begin in July.

This program is in partnership with Axis Community Health that has been working with the Tri-Valley since 1972.

“We currently serve 15,000 Tri-Valley residents. Our services are available to all members of the community, but we especially target those who are uninsured or living in poverty. [These] services include medical care, mental health services, dental care, and a variety of support services,” said Executive Director of Axis Health Sue Compton.

However, there is a large gap in mental health services in the Tri-Valley. There is a stigma causing people to hide their mental health issues, and when they do reach out, people often don’t know where to seek help.

“When families seek help, the usual routes are to call 911 or to try to reach their medical provider.  What many families discover is that there is an enormous shortage of mental health providers and this typically results in waiting lists for care that can stretch out for several months,” said Compton.

Currently, health care providers have long waiting lists, and these lists have only gotten longer since the pandemic began. The Axis mental health urgent care service tries to bridge that gap until people can get a mental health provider and a long-term plan.

“The need for mental health services in the Tri-Valley has increased dramatically in the last decade, and has been further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. There is currently not enough capacity to meet the demand, the systems are complex and difficult to maneuver, especially in a crisis,” said Becky Hopkins, lead staff of the Axis Community Health Mental Health Urgent Care Center pilot program.

During this pandemic, services will be provided through telehealth, and patients will also have walk-in access. Once it is safe to do so, there is a clinic site in Pleasanton that can provide in-person services.

“Under Axis Community Health’s Mental Health Urgent Care Center pilot project, services will be available to all [Tri-Valley residents] regardless of income or insurance. Individuals and families with urgent mental health needs will be able to call for same-day appointments,” said Hopkins.

This center would have a large impact on the community as a whole but would be particularly beneficial for high schoolers.

“Mental health throughout the student body at Amador is frankly quite poor, with students stressed and depressed for reasons ranging from academics to parental pressures and even social standings. A mental health center easily accessible to students would grant them a place to express their thoughts and feelings freely in a safe place and receive help,” said Simmy Mukherjee (‘21).