Wednesday, May 23 , 2018, 12:47 pm | Overcast 63º


Local News


Seeing an Opportunity, PathPoint Opens Counseling Center Next to New Santa Barbara Office

When a tenant next to PathPoint’s new offices moved out earlier this year, the Santa Barbara nonprofit organization saw an opportunity.

PathPoint, which provides support and services to people with disabilities and mental illness, had just moved to its new location at 315 W. Haley St. when space next door became available.

As a condition of its rental agreement at its previous office at East Carrillo and Laguna streets, Pathpoint was not allowed to see patients on-site.

That “was a real problem,” said Jennifer Newbold, PathPoint’s vice president of behavioral health.

The new Haley Street building has no such restrictions, however, and plans were quickly drawn up to turn the vacant space into a counseling center. It opened in October.

The demand for mental health counseling and therapy has escalated since the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which vastly expanded the number of people eligible for Medi-Cal. But the influx of the newly insured was met with a dearth of therapists to see them, Newbold said.

PathPoint’s behavioral health division serves about 250 people. Newbold, however, said she noticed a gap of care between people who were severely mentally ill and could be seen by county programs and others who needed care in the community or who lacked insurance.

Now that many of those people are covered by Medi-Cal, she hopes the counseling center can take some of the pressure off local demand.

Within two weeks of opening, the counseling center had 14 referrals, an affirmation that the need was there.

People are referred to the center through the Holman Group, which works with CenCal Health, the Medi-Cal administrator for low-income residents of Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties.

Newbold said the counseling center has four marriage and family therapists and is in the process of hiring two more.

There’s no psychiatrist on staff yet, but the organization hopes at some point to expand and hire for that.

“There seems to be so much need,” Newbold remarked.

PathPoint was able to convert the vacant space into a waiting room and a therapy room, with its corporate offices next door.

The center is open Monday through Friday by appointment only. The center currently only sees patients insured by Medi-Cal, but Newbold said a future goal includes accepting insurance from other partners.

PathPoint also offers on-site services at several area housing authority developments.

Click here for more information about PathPoint, or call 805.966.3310.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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