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mental health

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

Last week we brought you a story about high schoolers in Merced asking for a mental health class, and getting one. This week, moderator Kathleen Schock digs deeper into youth and mental illness with Christina Valdez-Roup, executive director of the Fresno National Alliance on Mental Illness, and teacher Abraham Perez from Edison High School. Perez has spent the last two years teaching a mental health class as part of the school’s bio-med career technical education pathway.

This week on Valley Edition: Rates of domestic violence appear to be climbing in the Central Valley. How pervasive is it, and what’s behind the increase? We bring you the story of one survivor whose abuser was a Clovis cop.

We also hear from mental health educators who work with high schoolers and other youth. Kids are learning the signs of mental illness, and if a career in mental health is for them.

Later, we talk about a festival brewing in Lemoore, and it’s all about lagers, IPAs, and ales to name a few.

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

When it comes to access to mental health care at public schools, California ranks at or near the bottom according to a Columbia University report. But one Merced high school is going against that tide with an entire course dedicated to mental health. Kids are responding so positively, they’re becoming advocates themselves.

Among those students is 18-year-old Jonathan Swart.

This week on Valley Edition: We’ve moved from Tuesdays to Fridays!

 

A Los Banos mother explains why she became an activist for the multiracial movement, and in Merced, we talk to high schoolers about a mental health class they initiated.

In Bakersfield, an unusual event uses games and humor to encourage attendees to think about what they want - after they die.

Stars Behavioral Health Group

Mental health care is a constant need here in the San Joaquin Valley, especially for those who can’t afford to go elsewhere—and for those whose symptoms are tough enough to require some treatment but not hospitalization.

Last week, Fresno County opened a new crisis residential facility to house those who fall in that in-between space. In this interview, we speak about the new facility with Dawan Utecht, director of the Fresno County Department of Behavioral Health.

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

These days, Crystal Giles negotiates dinner options for her two kids alone. There’s Talon, her four-year-old son, and Riley, her eight-year-old daughter.

 

Giles moves a plate of burritos out of the microwave for Talon, and eventually settles on pizza rolls for Riley.

 

“That is way too many pizza rolls, little girl,” Giles tells her as Riley pours them out of a bag from the freezer.

Riley responds, “That’s how much daddy would eat.”

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

It can be hard to find the right kind of care for your physical health, and it can be just as challenging to find the right care for your mental health. One Fresno State alumna’s latest book is about facing that challenge herself. Sarah Fawn Montgomery is an author from California’s Central Coast, and now an assistant professor at Bridgewater State University in Massachusetts.

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

We’re at the start of another school year. And that means more than just a focus on basic academic skills. In Fresno County there’s a new push to address mental health and wellbeing. It’s part of a five year, $111 million dollar campaign that’s called “All 4 Youth” that’s bringing together the county’s office of education and the behavioral health department.

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.

Steve Brandau - Facebook

A Fresno City Councilmember has a new idea on dealing with the city’s homeless population – a law that would ban camping in the city. Councilmember Steve Brandau is set to take the proposed ordinance before the city council Thursday August 17th. If adopted, the law would ban camping on both public and private property in the city.

Brandau says he’s been getting complaints for months from constituents about people camping in the cooking, bathing and even defecating in public.

Inciweb / US Forest Service

A little over a year ago, a worn out power line touched off the Erskine Fire, which razed nearly 50,000 acres near Lake Isabella east of Bakersfield. The fire devastated an area already in need of mental health care. As part of our first-person series My Valley, My Story, we hear the concerns of Heather Berry, a licensed clinical social worker who serves the entire Kern River Valley.

"Per capita, we have more mental illness, more people who suffer with emotional and mental health issues, because of the rural isolation. We also have a huge amount of substance abuse.

Violet Ruth Bergen

While immigrant rights and sanctuary cities may be flash points right now in today’s political climate, it may be easy to forget that the San Joaquin Valley has a long history of opening its doors to immigrants as well as refugees fleeing struggles in their home countries. On Tuesday, April 4, Fresno State is hosting a symposium to educate students and the community about some of their newest neighbors: Syrian refugees.

Clinica Sierra Vista

The Affordable Care Act may be staying in place for now, but the long-term future of health care is still far from certain. And that uncertainty is already taking its toll on some health care programs--with ripple effects felt throughout the Valley.

If you peruse the Airbnb listings outside Bakersfield, you may stumble upon Broken Shadow Hermitage—a 3-bedroom getaway in the Tehachapi Mountains. The owner, Rick Hobbs, says it’s a great place to meditate and commune with nature.

Following recent high-profile suicides in Bakersfield and Fresno, many in the community are asking questions about how the community and the media should deal with the issue. In Bakersfield local community LGBT activist and CSUB student Jai Bornstein took her own life, as did newly-elected city councilmember Jeff Tcak. In Fresno County, three Clovis West High School students have taken their own lives in the last six months.

Carmen Vargas

Every year in America, around 42,000 people kill themselves. Suicide is the second most common non-illness related cause of death, but prevention advocates say the issue remains hidden and stigmatized. Recently, a series of high-profile events have recently brought suicide into the spotlight in the Central Valley. Many suicide advocates are now saying that the key to prevention is talking about it.

Three Clovis West High School students, a newly elected Bakersfield City Councilmember, and a Bakersfield LGBT activist all have taken their own lives in the last six months.

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

Sometimes in public policy, especially in health care, most everyone agrees there is an obvious problem. But more often than not, getting everyone to agree on a solution is much harder. That’s what is happening right now when it comes to access to mental health care in the Central Valley and two mental health facilities are showing that gap in a stark way.

First, let’s get the ‘thing everyone agrees on’ out of the way.

It’s probably not a surprise that the Central Valley has a severe shortage of mental health facilities and providers.

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

Over the last few weeks, Valley Public Radio has aired a series of reports looking at how life in violent communities can affect the health of area residents, and how the lack of health care can contribute to some of that violence at times. But there’s another side of this story – the one of the police who patrol those streets.

Valley Public Radio

This week on Valley Edition we look how local residents growing up in neighborhoods filled with violence are dealing with "toxic stress" - a condition often compared to PTSD. We also learn how large wide-body air tankers are changing the fight against wildfires, and hear from Dr. Dana Suskind, who talks about the 30 million word gap and what it means for early childhood development. Later in the show we get a preview of the new season of the San Joaquin Valley Town Hall Lecture Series, which features Dr. Michio Kaku, Leon Panetta and Dave Barry.

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