Looking at what he termed a ‘disproportionate number of mental health cases coming through Pathways clinic near Oak Valley Hospital, physician’s assistant intern Zach Greenlee has partnered with some fellow interns in hopes of making a difference.
Part of the problem, he said, appears to be that people in this area just don’t know what mental health services are available. If more people know, he said, more might take advantage of the services. He also wants to help lift the stigma of seeking help.
“UC Davis did a recent study on mental health services in several counties across California and our town was identified as one that is significantly lacking in mental health services and as having a need for them,” Greenlee explained. “There are services available now, particularly through National Alliance on Mental Illness, Stanislaus County chapter, Family Support Network and Center for Human Services, but significant lack of awareness of available services.
“We are partnering with these organizations in hopes to increase awareness and relieve some of the stigma of seeking mental health services in Oakdale.”
Greenlee, an Oakdale native, is currently a Physician Assistant Intern from Stanford School of Medicine. The project is part of the curriculum as he works toward a Master’s degree.
Local appearances to help bring awareness will include a booth at the Oakdale Farmers Market on Aug. 15 and also at the Movies in the Park night on Saturday, Aug. 17 in Cottles Woods Park. That movie night is sponsored by Center for Human Services – Oakdale Family Resource and Counseling Center. The movie ‘Rise of the Guardians’ will start at dusk.
Greenlee said with a number of opportunities for help available in Oakdale, the goal is to have those existing services work together, cooperatively addressing the mental health needs of the community, And since many of those needing the help are often indigent, he said a comprehensive ‘team’ approach will help ensure all those that need service get it.
“Center for Human Services, Family Support Network, they all have a common goal but they don’t work together, our goal is to unite them under the community health project.”
Many of the services here are offered free, and Greenlee said that knowledge could also be a factor in encouraging people to get help when they need it. The more knowledge they have, Greenlee said, the better their chances of getting the help they need.