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California Program Celebrates its Second Year Offering Urgent Mental Health Care

Axis Bridge, a mental health urgent program created by Axis Community Health, marked its second anniversary in July 2023. The program was launched in July 2021 in response to the community’s need for increased access to mental health treatment. 

Before the Axis Bridge program, it was not uncommon for California’s Tri-Valley residents to wait three or four months for mental health treatment. However, with the Axis Bridge program, they can receive same-day-services.

“The Axis Bridge program came out of a need in our community,” said Jennifer Penney, Chief of Behavioral Health/Psychologist at Axis Community Health. “Essentially, we looked for outside-the-box funding opportunities to create an urgent care program. So essentially anyone in our community can call in during open hours, speak with a care coordinator immediately, and have same-day access to therapy and psychiatry.” Several local government agencies and the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration funded the effort. 

Regardless of whether they have health insurance, Axis Bridge is available in California to all Dublin, Livermore, and Pleasanton residents ages five and up. This free program offers immediate short-term treatment that includes therapy and psychiatry, aid in finding longer-term treatment, assistance navigating the mental health care system, and help in preventing an escalation of symptoms. Both virtual and in-person appointments are available five days per week. 

In its inaugural year, the five-person treatment team consisting of two care coordinators, two staff therapists, and one psychiatrist helped 563 patients, provided 775 individual therapy sessions, conducted 315 psychiatry appointments, and more than had 2,501 care coordination visits. Year two of the program was an even bigger success. The team saw 809 patients, an increase of 246 patients from the previous year. 

“The staffing ratio to the amount of patients that we are able to see is really cost-effective,” said Penney. “This program could really be something that we could create across the country, and I’d love to see that. We’ve shown that it can be done with a pretty slim staffing model.” 

Patients of Axis Bridge consistently provide positive feedback on the program. Some patients noted that they finally felt “heard,” “that somebody cares,” and “hope”. Due to the success of Axis Bridge and its positive patient impact, the hope is to expand the program in the future.