In my 18 years serving on the Riverside County Behavioral Health Commission and in my role at the Coachella Valley Unified School District, I have witnessed great strides in the diversity and availability of mental health treatment programs for youth and young adults in our region.
I applaud the innovation and dedication of behavioral health professionals in Riverside County. We must continue to expand resources, normalize seeking help, look out for the well-being of our youth and respond to their needs.
Often, young people hesitate to seek help for mental health issues because of the stigma surrounding treatment or the fear that they will be labeled as unstable. Instead, they suffer anxiety, depression and other symptoms in silence.
Locally, Riverside County has taken numerous steps to address the need by increasing the affordability and convenience of treatment for all ages. The county continues to push the envelope on service, putting innovative programs in place. It is critical we keep this progress going.
Growing up in the Coachella Valley, I have seen the barriers our youth face in accessing mental health and substance abuse services. Imagine, for example, the struggle to get help during standard business hours for a teen playing after-school sports, or an individual who must choose between paid work or getting care.
In response, the county opened 24/7 services, with urgent care centers always staffed for walk-in appointments. Text messaging provides much-needed help for those who prefer not to talk in person or by phone. Only in the rarest cases are people placed in a conservatorship under the Public Guardian Program, which provides the highest level of services to our most vulnerable community members. No matter the situation, there is treatment when, where and how our youth and young adults need it.
The county operates three innovative Transitional Age Youth (TAY) drop-in centers geared specifically to teens and young adults between the ages of 16 and 25.