21/02/2024
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Demands for mental health resources are increasing in Stanislaus County, but a shortage of mental health physicians to fill them all presents a challenge. Mental health experts say people often wait weeks or months just to be seen by a doctor after making an appointment, but providing immediate help can be crucial, especially in times of crisis. Experts say the volume of calls has increased in recent years, partly due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but also due to the increase in alcohol and drug abuse. The problem? There aren’t enough professionals in the field to respond quickly to everyone. Now, the county is trying a different approach to addressing the shortage. Approximately 50 social workers and outreach workers from the county’s Behavioral Health and Recovery Services are about to begin training at the Lay Counselor Academy to become lay mental health counselors. In short, it’s a program that trains people without college degrees or licenses to work in mental health counseling. It features 65 hours of specialist training with lessons including motivational interviewing and cognitive behavioral therapy strategies, supportive counseling and deep listening. Elizabeth Morrison, a psychologist in Modesto, co-created the academy less than a year ago. mental health care, Morrison said. Morrison said he saw a need for more mental health staff and resources nationwide which prompted the idea of ​​finding an alternative solution. Her own family was no exception to the long wait for resources. I have two teenagers and a child who have had their mental health plummet during the pandemic, and spent 7 weeks on a waiting list to see someone who when the time came, didn’t want to see anyone again, Morrison said. Candidates for training are carefully selected based on their skills and experience. But Morrison said the program also serves as a good experience for fresh-out-of-college students to gain the skills and practice they need to succeed in the field. But having these unlicensed workers out in the field is raising questions for some. come on behalf of family members whose loved ones may not always recognize that they need help. If they can get training there to help these case managers and social workers deal with their clients, better meet their needs to understand them more, I think that would be good, Thomas said. As far as therapy, I think it’s a whole other ball game. Morrison said the lay counselors will not replace any licensed therapist or physician or step in for things like diagnosis and crisis intervention. Instead, they would work under the supervision of licensed physicians to provide listening and support for any clients who may be struggling. I think Stanislaus County and all the people that send people through the lay counselor academy are really looking at those waitlists, those three month, four month, five month waitlists and trying to get those people that they are waiting with nothing to see someone who can spend time with them and help them, Morrison said. Lay counselors are also trained to provide a wide range of client care and resources. Morrison said the new cohort will begin training in July.

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Demands for mental health resources are increasing in Stanislaus County, but a shortage of mental health physicians to fill them all presents a challenge.

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Mental health experts say people often wait weeks or months just to be seen by a doctor after making an appointment, but providing immediate help can be crucial, especially in times of crisis.

Experts say the volume of calls has increased in recent years, partly due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but also due to the increase in alcohol and drug abuse. The problem? There aren’t enough professionals in the field to respond quickly to everyone.

Now, the county is trying a different approach to addressing the shortage. Approximately 50 social workers and outreach workers from the county’s Behavioral Health and Recovery Services are about to begin training at the Lay Counselor Academy to become lay mental health counselors.

In short, it’s a program that trains people without college degrees or licenses to work in mental health counseling.

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It features 65 hours of specialist training with lessons including motivational interviewing and cognitive behavioral therapy strategies, supportive counseling and deep listening.

Elizabeth Morrison, a psychologist in Modesto, co-created the academy less than a year ago.

A lay counselor is someone who doesn’t have a mental health degree or license, but has the skills and has received additional training, and provides mental health care, Morrison said.

Morrison said he was seeing a need for more mental health staffing and resources nationwide which prompted the idea of ​​finding an alternative solution.

His own family was no exception to the long wait for resources.

I have two teenagers and a child who have had their mental health plummet during the pandemic, and spent 7 weeks on a waiting list to see someone who when the time came, didn’t want to see anyone again, Morrison said.

Candidates for training are carefully selected based on their skills and experience.

But Morrison said the program also serves as a good experience for fresh-out-of-college students to gain the skills and practice they need to succeed in the field.

But having these unlicensed workers out in the field is raising questions for some.

Darlene Thomas with the National Alliance on Mental Illness in Modesto is one of the responders to the county’s many mental health claims.

Many of the calls, Thomas said, come on behalf of family members whose loved ones may not always recognize they need help.

If they can get training there to help these case managers and social workers deal with their clients, better meet their needs to understand them more, I think that would be good, Thomas said. As far as therapy, I think it’s a whole other thing.

Morrison said the lay counselors would not replace any licensed therapist or physician or step in for things like diagnosis and crisis intervention. Instead, they would work under the supervision of licensed physicians to provide listening and support for any clients who may be struggling.

I think Stanislaus County and all the people that send people through the lay counselor academy are really looking at those waitlists, those three month, four month, five month waitlists and trying to get those people that they are waiting with nothing to see someone who can spend time with them and help them, Morrison said.

Lay counselors are also trained to provide a wide range of client care and resources.

Morrison said the new cohort will begin training in July.

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