COMMUNITY COMMENTARY:

On Aug. 19, the Glendale News-Press published an article regarding VMHCare, formally Verdugo Mental Health, titled “Center lays off 16.”

The article reported accurately that our Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health-funded Adult Outpatient Program, which provides treatment for individuals with serious mental and emotional disorders, suffered severe budget cuts.

As a result, the center was forced to lay off 16 staff members, effectively shutting down all Adult Outpatient Program services except psychiatric and medication.

Counseling services for the program were terminated as case workers, supervisors and a new crew of interning therapists were laid off.

Unfortunately, the article failed to mention that VMHCare has another out-patient counseling program, Positive Directions, that is still providing psychotherapy and counseling services.

We are concerned that this misunderstanding could dissuade people in our community from seeking help through our sliding-fee counseling program.

The curtailment of VMHCare’s Adult Outpatient Program services is a serious hardship for the chronically mentally ill clients in our community, and the staff is doing its best, in coordination with the county, to find alternative services for them.

We are grateful that most clients will at least be able to continue with their medication through our psychiatric staff.

Positive Directions is taking on a few of their higher-functioning clients, but our program is not designed to serve those with more severe mental illnesses.

Positive Directions at VMHCare provides excellent individual and family therapy for a reduced fee based on income.

Information and applications for counseling can be found on www.positivedirections.info, or by calling (818) 244-7257, Ext. 1709 for more information.


 DEBORAH MCCOLL is the program director for Positive Directions at VMHCare.

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