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Panel highlights San Joaquin County’s mental health, substance abuse services

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Posted: Wednesday, October 31, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 6:10 am, Wed Oct 31, 2012.

Twenty-six Lodi-area residents attended a presentation last week on mental health and substance abuse services made available locally by San Joaquin County.

Lodi Mayor JoAnne Mounce briefly expressed her gratitude for the behavioral health services provided in the community, such as crisis intervention training, which is POST-certified and received by local law enforcement personnel. That includes members of the Lodi Police Department in collaboration with San Joaquin County Mental Health Services and the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

The Lodi Police Department mental health liaison is Officer Jim Pendergast.

Treva Sue Strain, Lodi's outpatient clinic program manager, gave an overview of mental health services provided to children, adults and older adults with serious mental illnesses who have Medi-Cal coverage or are without insurance, who are served on a sliding-scale basis.

The clinic also provides referrals to walk-ins with private insurance coverage.

The clinic's coverage area includes Lodi and outlying areas like Acampo, Clements, Lockeford, Morada, Thornton, Victor and Woodbridge. It served about 1,000 clients last year.

The clinic staff is particularly enthusiastic to have a full-time adult psychiatrist and a part-time children's psychiatrist. There is a nationwide shortage of psychiatrists and an acute shortage of children's psychiatrists.

Staff members can speak Spanish, Turkish and Farsi; there is also access to a language line.

Mental health clinicians Victoria Sibayan and Judy Dlyniuk gave an overview of their group treatments for medication education, grief and loss, depression management, managing stress through art therapy, post-traumatic stress syndrome, substance abuse, wellness recovery action plans, family support services and recovery groups. There will soon be a holiday stress reduction group.

In San Joaquin County, "drugs of choice" upon admission from August 2011 to September 2012 were methamphetamine, marijuana, alcohol, heroin and cocaine (tied for fourth place), PCP, other methamphetamines, synthetic opiates, OxyCodone (oxycontin), non-prescription methadone, ecstasy and barbiturates.

Lynn Tarrabt, deputy director for children and youth services, spoke briefly about the Students in Prevention program. High school students throughout the county, including Lodi Unified School District, are trained each year by Behavioral Health Services to deliver information on substance abuse prevention and mental health issues to their feeder schools throughout the following school year.

Students throughout the county also receive training for school programs such as Friday Night Live and Too Good for Drugs.

Mental Health Director Vic Singh responded that Healthy Connections was recently approved for its third narcotic treatment program for drug Medi-Cal clients and is now licensed for 150 slots for a site located at Lodi Memorial West, 1235 W. Vine St. The program just began providing perinatal and detox services.

Singh said he was happy to report that San Joaquin County secured a $325,000 state grant for three years to expand the state's prison realignment program.

Singh is enthusiastic that a program in San Francisco, in collaboration with University of California, San Francisco, will open an office at 1145 N. California St. The program is looking for persons with people between 17 and 27 years old with schizophrenia or bi-polar disorders, including those who are covered by insurance.

The agency will also train mental health providers, including schools, in an approach which aims to prevent the onset of full psychosis.

Gertie Kandris and her husband, Tasso, are members of the San Joaquin County Mental Health and Substance Abuse board. They live in Woodbridge.

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