How a NorCal Hospital Is Bridging Gaps in Mental Healthcare 
May 8, 2024
Sutter Health
Woman looking at her reflection in mirror

by Marycon Young, Vitals contributor

Three decades ago, mental health was a topic wrapped in stigma and underserved by the medical community. Fast forward to today, and the conversation around mental health has dramatically shifted — thanks, in part, to places like the Herrick Campus at Sutter’s Alta Bates Summit Medical Center. Back in the late 1980s when Luana Shiba-Harris joined Herrick, the facility was only equipped to handle inpatient services.

“When I started, that’s all we had,” recalls Shiba-Harris, now the manager of outpatient behavioral health services.

Seeing a gap, Shiba-Harris and her team got to work expanding their programs to include outpatient services, paving the way for more comprehensive care. This was a big move and it’s had a big impact. Today, Herrick offers a robust blend of inpatient and outpatient services that reflect the growing need for mental health care — a need that touches nearly one in five adults in the U.S. 

From Adolescents to Adults: Comprehensive Care for All Ages 

Portrait of Luana Shiba-Harris

Luana Shiba-Harris

What really makes Herrick stand out is its dedication to offering tailored care across all stages of life. Whether it’s a teenager grappling with anxiety or an adult struggling with depression, Herrick provides programs that cater to different ages and needs.  

One standout initiative is the Eating Disorder Program. Given that eating disorders affect 9% of the U.S. population, Herrick’s program is vital. It’s the only one in the Bay Area to offer specialized inpatient psychiatric care for these disorders. This program helps patients heal physically and supports their mental and spiritual recovery, ensuring a holistic approach to health. 

More Than Just Healthcare — A Vision for the Future 

Shiba-Harris has big dreams for the future of mental health care. She envisions a system where mental health is integrated seamlessly with physical health, reducing stigma and making care accessible for everyone.

“We’re aiming to treat mental health as a fundamental part of overall health,” she explains. This vision is taking shape through Sutter Health’s Ambulatory Expansion Plan for Behavioral Health, which leverages technology and team-based care to improve early screening and ongoing management. 

Why This Matters Now 

As we mark Mental Health Awareness Month, it’s vital to spotlight the advances being made in mental health services, and Herrick’s progress is a perfect example of this. Sutter Health isn’t just responding to the needs of today; it’s anticipating the challenges of tomorrow, with five inpatient centers and eight outpatient facilities across Northern California dedicated to mental health and addiction care. 

For anyone interested in what Herrick Campus is doing or if you or someone you know needs help, there’s more information available at Sutter’s Alta Bates Summit Medical Center. 

The evolution of Herrick Campus is not just a testament to how far we’ve come in understanding and treating mental health but also a reminder of the importance of continuous improvement and innovation in healthcare. As the conversation around mental health continues to evolve, so too will the services and support offered by pioneers like those at Herrick. 

Need Immediate Help in A Crisis? 

Dial or text 988 if you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide or experiencing a mental health crisis and get connected to a trained crisis counselor 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 

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