Merced County’s development of a North County Behavioral Health Clinic at 7099 California Street in Winton is an exciting new project in the community that is expected to significantly benefit the entire northern portion of Merced County.
“Our department has been looking for an upstate campus for a few years,” said Genevieve Valentine, director of behavioral health and recovery services for the Merced County Department of Behavioral Health. “We have a small clinic in Livingston, but it doesn’t meet the needs of the whole north side.
“By the grace of God, someone contacted us and told us that the Winton Mennonite Church was for sale. I looked at the property and Merced County Behavioral Health bought it. We closed escrow in November 2021.
“Our hope is that the North County Clinic will be operational by July 2023. It will take us at least 18 months to do all the necessary work. However, we hope to provide a small number of services by this summer in Winton, but nowhere near what we hope to do for the community by summer 2023.
“Winton currently has very limited behavioral health services, and we hope members of the Winton community will apply for the jobs we will be offering, such as jobs for Winton Community Youth Mentors. We hope our facility will bring the community to life and provide not only behavioral health support, but also great jobs in the county.
Describing the services offered by a behavioral health clinic, Valentine said, “Merced County Behavioral Health is the Medi-Cal provider for the moderate to severe mentally ill and those in need of addiction treatment. We have a variety of contracts throughout the county and provide outpatient and residential mental health and addictions treatment to meet the needs of Merced’s Medi-Cal recipients.
“We offer services to children, youth in transition and adults until the end of life.
“We have three mobile crisis teams, one specializing in youth, one that works with law enforcement to meet the needs of adults and homeless people, and one that responds to various crisis situations in the community.
“So, for example, when a young person is not well, they can be assessed through the specialized youth crisis team and immediately stabilized for 23 hours at the Stabilization Unit of the youth crisis, and it gives the family the necessary time off.It’s on our Merced campus.
“The Adult and Homeless Unit responds with law enforcement, and it’s integrated with the Merced DART team; this partnership tries to do outreach and engagement with homeless people and other adults in the community and provides resources as needed.
“We really strive to show our community that behavioral health is going to stand shoulder to shoulder with members of our community and be the support that is needed, instead of just being a building where you go.
“We are growing and doing more in schools and developing collaborative partnerships for early intervention and prevention, and we have thriving partnerships with a variety of school districts and the county office of education. Wednesday.
“We want to invest in the social and emotional well-being of our children and, in addition to teaching them skills, build their resilience so they can see how developing healthy coping skills helps us in the long run.
“With early intervention and prevention, we start with educating families, like teaching coping skills and better mechanisms to deal with stressors, so rather than trying to make whether a child or family feels bad, we try to de-stigmatize mental health issues.
“Children don’t always learn social/emotional regulation skills, so we teach frustration tolerance skills. We also perform behavioral health assessments and provide treatment. It takes a bit of time, but a child shouldn’t be in behavioral health treatment all their life and we really need to focus and give them the tools and skills they need. We must educate and support the whole family in order to heal the whole unit.
“We have a very good child care system. A child care team is called Strengthening Families. The goal of this team is to have adult mentors mentor parents and children and use their own life experiences to help those going through the system navigate the world of behavioral health. Parents help parents.