I am the pastor of the Atascadero United Methodist Church, and I am a licensed therapist. I visit behavioral health facilities such as the one proposed in Templeton. All are located near residential areas.
Because the proposed facility is for voluntary patients with health insurance, fears about people being “scooped up and dumped in Templeton” are unfounded, as are fears that people will “get out” and wander around. Patients will be members of our communities, who want to be there, are paying to be there and will go back to their homes.
About 1 in 4 people will suffer from mental illness at some point. They won’t all need to be hospitalized, but someone you know will. Because of the stigma, most people won’t talk about it.
I visited a hospitalized congregant in Ventura. It took all day. People with jobs and children can’t do it daily. It is isolating for the patients who are separated from supportive people when they need it most.
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I don’t worry about people who are being treated for mental illness. I do worry about people who need treatment and don’t receive it. For some, the distance between here and the nearest hospitals will mean they don’t get the treatment they need.
Diane Wood Rehfield, Atascadero