Mental Health Workers Needed for Outreach to Fresno Residents with Low Incomes

Growing numbers of Central Valley residents with acute mental health challenges are having difficulty accessing providers. Two women having a discussion in a counseling session.

When community health workers from Fresno travel to the region’s rural communities and disadvantaged urban neighborhoods to provide support, one issue keeps coming up again and again: Growing numbers of San Joaquin Valley residents say they are experiencing acute mental health challenges.

Whether they are worried about where their next meal will come from, the arrival of an unexpectedly high utility bill or the disappearance of the last anti-eviction programs from the COVID era, stress is mounting.

And in this region, it often doesn’t have anywhere to go.

One out of every five Valley residents — including 25% of those with low incomes — say they tried to make an appointment for mental health care in the last year, according to a new regional survey released recently by the California Health Care Foundation.

But more than half of respondents — 54% — said it was difficult to find a provider who takes their insurance. Among those who were able to find a doctor, 62% report waiting longer than they thought was reasonable to get an appointment. Fully half of Valley residents believe the region doesn’t have enough health-care providers, especially for mental health issues.

Continue reading the article here. This story first appeared in the May 2, 2024, issue of the Fresno Bee.