‘A state of need’: Grass Valley Police, Turning Point and HOME team to discuss mental health

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A roundtable on mental health between key stakeholders on the subject will air on NCTV this Friday.

According to JoAnn Marie, vice president of the League of Women Voters of Western Nevada County, the discussion includes insights from Superior Court Judge Tom Anderson; Grass Valley Police Chief Alex Gammelgard; Phebe Bell, Nevada County Director of Behavioral Health; Heather Vance, Turning Point Program Director; and Lael Walz, president of NAMI, with Sierra Family Health Care.

Marie said she asked contributors to explain how they deal with mental health in their specific area — “What Gammelgard sees on the street and what the judge sees in court.”



Marie said she appreciates the perspective offered by the various agency leaders because the county’s mental health issues “are not always acute.”

“This pandemic is putting us all in a state of need,” Marie said. “Nationally we all go through this, but this is more specific. This is what is happening in the region and how they can reach these people.



Fran Cole, league president, said her team wanted to remind residents of what mental health resources are available to meet the range of needs.

A public discussion of the realities of mental health helps de-stigmatize the conversation around the topic, Cole said, one of the first steps to addressing the issue.

“We have to fight the stigma,” Cole said. “It’s like another disease. Once we do this, we can work more effectively with mental health issues.

Cole said the more conversations there are about the subject, the more the agencies involved can receive treatment and medication. The discussion also highlights the program in which social service providers accompany law enforcement.

Cole said attendees weren’t giving specific numbers, but rather discussing observations of the rise in mental health issues in the community since the COVID-19 pandemic first affected Californians.

“It’s not just the minority of people who get arrested,” Cole said. “It’s that we all go in and out of mental health crises and that could be us, right?”

Bell, director of the county’s behavioral health department, said the discussion “brought different perspectives to the table” that identified what exactly “mental health” and “mental illness” mean.

Bell said a highlight of the discussion will be a first-hand account of what it was like to receive mental health services in Nevada County. According to Cole, a success story from the Department of Behavioral Health once appeared in front of Anderson before receiving services from Turning Point.

“It’s super compelling to hear about and try to understand,” Bell said.

Bell said the roundtable was worth watching for personal and community benefit.

“You can observe when your sanity slips into something that might need support,” Bell said. “You can also learn more about mental health, understand what serious mental illness looks like and the resources available in this situation.”

Rebecca O’Neil is a staff writer for The Union. She can be reached at roneil@theunion.com

This story has been corrected to indicate participants in the mental health discussion

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