County Behavioral Health Commission seeks members

The Plumas County Behavioral Health Commission is low on members. Consequently, there was no quorum at the commission’s Jan. 3 meeting, but the commission still discussed the pertinent topics on behavioral health in the county.

One of the main topics of discussion was the recruitment of new members for the commission. Interim chair and District 4 Supervisor Lori Simpson emphasized the need for clients of the county’s behavioral health department, or family members of clients on the commission. Right now, there are four members on the commission, which leaves three openings for county citizens to fill.

The goal of the commission is to advise the board of supervisors and the mental health director on the county’s mental health programs. The commission reviews and evaluates the mental health needs in the county. The commission also assists in developing an annual report that goes to the board for review.

Other topics discussed at the meeting included the allocation of Mental Health Services Act (MSHA) funds to help renovate the Sierra House, a board and care facility for mentally ill adults. MSHA Coordinator Aimee Heaney said the program had approximately $250,000 that could go toward the renovation, which will include a new storage facility and updated rooms.

Interim Behavioral Health Director Louise Steenkamp said the department is actively recruiting employees after a wave of resignations and retirements over the past few years. She said the department serves more than 900 clients, and it is a challenge to meet all their needs with the lesser staff numbers.

She explained that there are job incentives including training programs and student loan assumption programs for employees to get their master’s degrees so they can become Behavioral Health Specialists. She reported that six employees would be graduating in the next year with their degrees.

The Behavioral Health Commission meets on the first Wednesday of each month at the Quincy library. People interested in becoming a member of the commission can contact Steenkamp at [email protected].

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