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VA opens new mental health building in Martinez

By DAVID SCHOLZ
Martinez Tribune

MARTINEZ, Calif. – An enlarged home for serving the mental health needs of veterans who travel to the Veterans Administration Outpatient Clinic in Martinez will mean more timely responses and greater access to programming.

A ribbon cutting ceremony this past week officially opened the new $9.7 million Mental Health Clinic on the VA grounds that will provide an additional 10,400 square feet to care for veterans whose individual battles are continuing. The overall space now totals 16,000 square feet, more than double the prior space for the VA’s mental health interests.

“The goal of our new clinic is to create a space with home-like qualities for our veterans,” said Tara Ricks, chief public affairs officer for the VA Northern California Health Care System.

Gone are the bland, sterile-like institutional qualities that defined past treatment environments.

Rather, “the building was designed to reflect the aesthetics of the natural environment, with bright lighting features that stimulate the calming effects of the local landscape,” Ricks added.

Veterans will experience a more streamlined intake process with the VA offering more appointment times. The facility will also have increased staff to triage individuals who walk-in and those with same day appointments.

Expanded substance abuse programs designed for those who are chronically struggling with use and recovery issues will also be given greater attention at the enlarged facility.

Additional resources for the facility’s Primary Care Mental Health Integration Program also will enable veterans to have greater access to behavioral mental health services. This will translate into more timely consultations between mental health providers and primary care providers, and result in earlier treatment.

Individual treatment and consultation services to be available include: Geriatric Psychiatry, Medication Management, Military Sexual Trauma, Post-traumatic stress, substance abuse and Suicide Prevention.

Group treatment services include: Anger management, Anxiety, Depression, PTSD, Medication Compliance, Pain Management, Social Skills, Smoking Cessation and Stress Management.

The June 13 ribbon cutting ceremony included remarks from David Stockwell, Director, VA Northern California Health Care System; Dr. Dave Chu, Behavioral Health Clinic Manager; and Dr. Jackson-Triche, Former VISN 21 Chief Mental Health Officer  and Health Sciences Clinical Professor, UCSF.

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