Hoag remains safe and ready to care for you. View COVID-19 information and updates.

Hoag treats minds as well as bodies

Categories: Neurosciences

For nearly 16 years, Hoag Mental Health Center has helped several thousand low-income and underserved people cope with stress, depression, anxiety and loss – often for free. But it's likely you had no idea.

You might also not be aware that you don't have to be struggling with a mental illness to benefit from psychological counseling. We assist people who find themselves just about anywhere on the mental health spectrum – from those who are struggling to maintain their positive mental health status to those who have been diagnosed with chronic mental illness.

Our services are offered to those who are uninsured or underinsured and low income. On a sliding scale that starts at $0, qualifying participants can meet with therapists once a week for three to four months, or longer if necessary. We treat everyone from children to the elderly. We also go into the community and tailor special programs. If you require medication, a Hoag psychiatrist will see you as part of your treatment. Our services are offered in English, Spanish and Farsi.

Hoag's Community Benefit Program fully funds the Mental Health Center through hospital revenue. There is no third-party billing. As a result, we are not bound by insurance company regulations. We are not forced to label people with a mental illness diagnosis in order to provide care. The course and duration of treatment are determined strictly by the therapist and the client.

Having started as a team of one in a small office, the Mental Health Center has grown into a program of seven full-time bilingual master's degree-prepared and licensed clinical social workers and one bachelor's degree-prepared case manager.

The program also has 10 supervised Master of Social Work student interns operating in a 5,000-square-foot space in Newport Beach.

So why haven't you heard of us?

Mental illness has historically had a stigma. But society's views are changing, and people are beginning to understand the connection between physical health and mental health. Our patient population no longer sees seeking help as a declaration of failure.

This means the person struggling with depression after losing a job can seek help without shame. A mother having trouble making ends meet can find someone to talk to about her difficulties without embarrassment. A teen who is being bullied at school can learn problem-solving skills and coping strategies without feeling fear.

The Mental Health Center at Hoag Hospital has been making a difference to the most vulnerable people in our community for almost 16 years. It's been a well-kept secret in Orange County. Now it's time to start talking about it.

– Michaell Rose is the director of Community Health Programs at Hoag and oversees the Hoag Mental Health Center.