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behavioral health

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

September is National Suicide Prevention Month. Two weeks ago, Fresno County published its suicide prevention strategic plan. The county has been developing this plan for almost two years. During that time, its rate of suicide matched the state’s at about 10 deaths for every 100,000 people, but it wants to bring that number below the state average. Lately, though Fresno isn’t the only county looking at how to reduce the risk of suicide.

 

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

A study published last week by UC San Francisco argues the San Joaquin Valley has some of the lowest ratios of behavioral health providers like psychiatrists and licensed clinical social workers in the state. The study also predicts that if nothing changes, California is on its way to a statewide behavioral health worker shortage.

In California, mental illness afflicts as many as 1 in 6 adults and 1 in 14 children. And yet, according to a new study, the state’s workforce of behavioral health providers could be in jeopardy.

By the year 2028, California could have 41 percent fewer psychiatrists than it needs, and 11 percent fewer other providers like psychologists and licensed clinical social workers.

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

Police officers across the country and in the Central Valley have been under increasing scrutiny and pressure for how they deal with civilians in the field. At the same time, some departments are acknowledging that their role is morphing into one that is just as concerned with identifying and helping people who might be suffering from a mental illness as it is enforcing the law. Fresno’s Police Chief Jerry Dyer says he is making changes within his force in an attempt to separate committed criminals from people who need a softer form of help.