Riverside County to Expand Behavioral Health Resources in Blythe
BLYTHE – Riverside County will boost clinic hours and staffing, train hospital and law enforcement personnel, and form a homeless outreach team as part of an expansion of mental health services in the Palo Verde Valley.
The services will help alleviate issues with mounting homelessness in a region with limited housing programs, as well as the strain on hospital and law enforcement resources tied up with individuals in psychiatric distress. The Blythe Community Needs Program was initiated in response to these concerns, which Supervisor V. Manuel Perez heard shortly after taking office.
“I engaged Riverside County Behavioral Health to find resources we can dedicate to address these serious needs,” said Supervisor V. Manuel Perez. “Behavioral Health championed this initiative and is making a strong effort to help individuals in need and support the community. This is a very beneficial, positive step, and our commitment is ongoing. We welcome ideas and partnerships to move toward more mid- and long-range solutions.”
Supervisor Perez and Riverside University Health System – Behavioral Health managers announced the upcoming services at a press conference in Blythe on Dec. 19.
“This expansion is the result of a collaboration with community leaders, law enforcement, medical and behavioral health professionals, consumers and elected officials,” said Steve Steinberg, director of RUHS Behavioral Health. “We are pleased to have the support of Supervisor Perez and the Blythe community in taking this step in providing greater access to behavioral health care for Blythe residents.”
The Blythe Community Needs Program will add four staff to the county behavioral health clinic in Blythe. The clinic will remain open later on weekdays with a crisis support team to respond to individuals in crisis, including those brought in by local law enforcement.
The crisis team will engage consumers into same-day behavioral health and substance abuse treatment. The goal is to provide care, reduce symptoms and break the cycle of police encounters and emergency room use.
Another component of the plan is increased local training and support to hospital and law enforcement staff. The county will offer training on 5150 and the use of non-violent crisis intervention to the Palo Verde Hospital Emergency Department. Behavioral Health will arrange customized training to the Blythe Police Department and the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in how to assist people experiencing behavioral health crises.
Finally, behavioral health will form a homeless outreach team. The two-person team will interact with homeless individuals in the area, providing assessments and necessary referrals. The housing crisis support team will assist these individuals in finding housing opportunities, as well as accessing treatment at the clinic and other community services.
The new services and extended hours will begin once the necessary positions are filled and trained. The county is recruiting for behavioral health specialists, clinical therapists and office assistants. To apply, visit the Human Resources Web site at www.rc-hr.com.