Toe dr. Richard Afable wanted to tackle mental health in Orange County, California, he intended to make a cohesive effort that linked city resources to the surrounding community.
More importantly, he wanted a place where all kinds of people, at all income levels, would feel comfortable seeking help without judgment.
So Be Well Orange was born – an all-inclusive campus where people can go to stabilize due to drug abuse, trauma and other mental health crises. For Afable and his team, Be Well OC is more than just a special place – it’s a movement.
“We see that this general feeling of mental illness is something that poor people have, either experienced by some unfortunate person, or it is affected,” Afable told The Epoch Times.
‘Mental health is reaching your highest potential. If you do not reach your highest potential, there is a good chance that you have a mental illness or that you have a drug use disorder. ”
Afable said the ultimate goal is to help every person in the country if need be.
“Because of COVID-19, the prevalence and prevalence of mood disorders – which are a mental illness – have become quite common, much more common than before the pandemic,” he said.
Depression is the most common mood disorder, he said, adding that the facility had an increase during the pandemic in children who could not go to school and adults who lost their jobs.
“They have a mood disorder, can’t sleep, can’t concentrate, sleep too much and can’t do anything,” he said.
The campus, which has 93 beds and can serve 100 people daily, is not a temporary housing facility, but rather a place where people can stay for up to 30 days to be stabilized.
Afable said the mission for Be Well is a six-point approach: reducing stigma, preventing and treating early treatment gaps, and improving access, strengthening crisis response, establishing community wellness centers, and establishing partnerships, policies and programs to bring a line.
‘Being good on campus in Orange is about stabilizing people. It is therefore not long-term housing, it is not auxiliary housing, it is not housing at all; it is about stabilization, ”he said.
Dr. Lauren Brand is director of Be Well OC. She told The Epoch Times that treating a patient on campus depends on the program he is going for.
‘They will get an evaluation by a psychologist or a mental health specialist. They also get an evaluation by a psychiatrist or an addiction medicine specialist. And especially at the crisis stabilization unit, they are also evaluated by nursing staff who are psychiatric nurses and nurses, ”Brand said. “And then a plan is put together for the best treatment for the person’s individual problem.”
She said people in the program are constantly evaluated to see if they are meeting the goals set for them when they get there.
‘As each of the goals is achieved, new goals are set to make sure that someone still needs the level of care at which they are sitting, and to make sure that they acquire the skills and knowledge and stability needed at that level. ”
There are many different types of therapy available to ensure that someone has a ‘body balance’, Brand said, ranging from individual to group activities. There is also free time.
“We know especially for clients who have just come out of a mental health crisis that their bodies and brains are pretty exhausted,” she said. ‘So they need the therapy, and they need all the interventions that will help them learn skills to deal with their symptoms. And we also know that they need rest. ”
Downtime is built in according to the scheme, “but we are really trying to maximize the therapeutic hours” to use the time together to create well-being and recovery.
Brand said organizers are mindful of how the actual physical environment of the facility was created because research shows that it is an important component in therapy. The campus is designed with lots of light and windows, green elements and outdoor spaces.
“It is designed to enhance the healing experience and to support recovery, so the campus is very open and airy,” she said. “We are creating a new experience for those who enter the building and seek care, and also for their families.”
Homeless people can get care, even if they have no insurance, she said. Be Well OC works with all providers, including shelters and navigation centers, to facilitate transitional, semi-permanent and permanent housing.
“We will have a person on site who works in that arena, who is a specialist in helping people get housing or getting better housing, because we know it is necessary to keep people stable,” he said. Brand said.
“And therefore it is very important to us that when someone enters the campus, if they are not in an ideal housing situation, or if they want a better or improved housing situation, that we have the ability and the ability to deal with them. to help. ”
Law enforcement support
Through more than 200 private-public partnerships, Be Well has the means to address the cause of a mental health crisis without rushing anyone out the door. Afable refers to the partnerships as components of the ‘Be Good Movement’.
“We have come together to transform how mental health services – both mental illness and drug use disorders – are both cared for and received in the community,” said Afable, president and chairman of the Be Wel board.
“We have gathered so many of the necessary stakeholders to make sure it is a joint effort, and so the 200 companies came together.”
Also on campus is the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) hotline, a confidential telephone service that provides emotional support to people in the midst of a crisis.
People in the midst of a crisis too often end up in jail or in the hospital, which can contribute to their trauma.
Orange County’s leading law enforcers support the new initiative. Sheriff Don Barnes said peacekeepers “were never meant to be the first face of government to address mental illness and drug addiction.”
“The campus will provide much-needed services to properly address these challenges and conserve the resources of law enforcement and emergency rooms for their intended purpose,” Barnes said. said when that campus opened.
Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer agreed, saying “Justice does what is right for the individual.”
“If we help people escape the cycle of the criminal justice system and address the underlying issues that cause them to commit crimes, we are helping to create life-satisfying and safer communities,” he said. said.
The first Be Well campus was launched in January in the city of Orange. But the idea began to take shape years ago when the Board of Supervisors in Orange County set up an ad hoc committee on mental health to address the issue.
In 2015, Supervisor Lisa Bartlett and Chair Andrew Do began auditing the country’s behavioral and mental health services before the supervisors allocated $ 16.6 million to the campus’ development. The provincial contribution was boosted by additional investments from medical providers, including Kaiser Permanente and Hoag Presbyterian.
With its large opening, do said the campus would serve as a “cornerstone in building a world-class mental health care system and a new reality for our country.”
“COVID-19 has certainly exacerbated mental health struggles in our community, and I am deeply honored to be part of the ongoing effort to help ensure that Orange County provides essential care to those who need it most,” he added.
The Be Well campus is the first of three planned in the province.