Shortage of mental health workers prompts organization to seek help

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Mental health providers have a similar story across the state, more of an increase in the need for mental health help but a lack of providers.

Kern Behavioral Health and Recovery Services is experiencing a severe shortage of behavioral health therapists, nurses and physician assistants.

“These positions are crucial. They provide the bulk of services to the community,” said Sarah Gutierrez, Human Resources Manager.

To help providers deal with the shortage, Governor Newsom this week signed the Mental Health Provider Shortage Bill into law. The bill aims to address the shortage of mental health care providers in California by providing “more mental health resources to the workers’ compensation system” and “assessing and treating mental health care employees more quickly” so that the employee “can return to work sooner”.

The bill focuses on employee health that Stacy Kuwahara, Kern’s Director of Behavioral Health and Recovery Services, is fundamental to mental health treatment and provides valuable services to this community.

“Sometimes we don’t always see the impact of the interventions and services we provide them, and other times we get to be there for really transformative moments,” Kuwahara said.

However, she understands why there is a shortage. Work itself is an act of service.

“The work we do is very difficult, the people we serve can be very intense, and it’s a lot to work with people who find themselves in these kinds of extreme circumstances,” Kuwahara said.

Still, “the times when we achieve great success balance the times when you work really hard, and you don’t feel like you’re raising the bar very far,” Kuwahara said.

Kuwahara shares that success is achieved with more mental health workers stepping up to help.

To contact Kern Behavioral Health & Recovery Services as a mental health worker, contact [email protected] or call their human resources line at 661-868-6840.

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