Sierra Summit bridges mental health services gap |

Sierra Summit bridges mental health services gap

Other Voices
Talal H. Alsaleem

Currently, the residents of Grass Valley, Nevada City, Auburn, Colfax and the surrounding areas have only two options when it comes to mental health services. The first option is traditional outpatient, i.e., seeing a therapist, psychologist and or psychiatrist weekly or biweekly. The second option is inpatient psychiatric hospitalization, which involves the confinement in a locked facility for a number of days. This means that a large segment of the population with moderate symptoms ends up being stuck with levels of care that are either too high or too low for their current symptoms.

The lack of a middle option is a cause of frustration for both providers and consumers of mental health services. The providers often feel limited when they are working with a client who they believe is in need of more intensive services than what they are able to provide him/her yet not quite in need of hospitalization. This often leads to unnecessary hospitalizations that could have been avoided if consumers had access to a level of care more appropriate for the severity of their symptoms.

The flip side of this takes place when you have clients discharged from a hospital after a necessary admission and now are expected to continue their treatment on a regular outpatient level. It's unrealistic to expect someone to go from 24/7 supervision to one- to two-hour weekly or biweekly contacts.

This is why Sierra Summit Behavioral Health created the Intensive Outpatient Program to bridge the gap between the two levels. The program is designed to provide intensive mental health services without the client having to be hospitalized. The program is designed to provide three days a week of intensive group therapy sessions as well as weekly individual/family therapy sessions. The program's hours are in the evening, which will allow the clients to continue taking care of daily activities and obligations, such as working and or attending school.

Impact on the community

Our main treatment philosophy at Sierra Summit Behavioral Health is to address all the different aspects of the client's well-being. This is why we put emphasis on identifying all the different treatment needs of our clients in addition to their mental health. To achieve this, we are planning to organize and host a regular forum for all the local health care providers in the community. The purpose of this forum is to allow the local providers an opportunity to communicate with one another about the community's health care needs as well as provide opportunities for learning about the available services in the community and how to access them.

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We will also be hosting a guest speaker series that will be open to the community. Through the series, different providers will deliver talks and workshops related to their fields and specialties for the purpose of educating the public and enhancing community awareness.

Talal H. Alsaleem, LMFT, is the clinical director at Sierra Summit Behavioral Health in Grass Valley. For information, call 530-845-4602 or visit

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