Last week, Dr. Thomas Insel, the internationally renowned neuroscientist and psychiatrist appointed by Governor Gavin Newsom to be his special advisor on mental health, visited San Bernardino County to learn about its behavioral health programs.
Insel visited San Bernardino County Department of Behavioral Health (DBH) clinics, residential treatment facilities, and participated in a ride along with the Homeless Outreach Support Team, a mental health team that provides supportive services to homeless individuals living on the streets. He also viewed an RV which had been transformed into a mobile clinic, and visited several DBH clubhouses, recreation centers that support individuals with a mental health disorder. At the Desert Stars Clubhouse in Barstow, members shared their stories of recovery and presented Insel with a Certificate of Appreciation for his long outstanding support of mental health. “Dr. Insel is interested in learning from the ‘little people’ and we appreciate that,” said clubhouse member Rey French.
“As I visit counties around California, I am continually impressed by the commitment and the creativity of the people delivering behavioral health services,” Insel said. “San Bernardino is such a great example of how innovative leaders and compassionate providers can deliver quality care to the people in greatest need. I was inspired by what I saw across the spectrum of care from clubhouses to inpatient services. I hope my colleagues in Sacramento can have the same experience.”
“DBH is thankful for state leaders like Dr. Insel, who understand the importance of behavioral health and finding innovative solutions to reach more people,” said DBH Director Dr. Veronica Kelley. “His visit provided us with the unique opportunity to show what the county does best – engage with and deliver care to the most vulnerable people in our community, wherever they are.”
Insel is the Chair of the Steinberg Institute, a behavioral health public policy agency. Prior to his current role, Insel served as director of the National Institute of Mental Health and was a professor of psychiatry at Emory University. Governor Newsom announced Insel’s appointment as “mental health czar” at a May 21 press conference.