Temecula, CA – The city of Temecula is investing $1.5 million this year in the mental health wellness of its most at-risk citizens and workers, and this week Temecula Valley Hospital publicly acknowledged the effort.

Work began late last year after the Temecula City Council agreed to grant $1 million of its $14 million American Rescue Plan Act allocation to the hospital for community behavioral health services.


The city has allocated $250,000 each to the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department and the Cal Fire/Riverside County Fire Department aimed at increasing mental health services for first responders serving Temecula.

In a statement released Wednesday, Temecula Valley Hospital CEO Darlene Wheaton explained why and how the $1 million grant will be used.

“There is a significant lack of services available to support the behavioral health needs of at-risk populations in the community,” she said. That compares to California’s suicide rate of 10.5 per 100,000 between 2018 and 2020. Funds awarded will be used to build awareness through community education, and most importantly, introduce behavioral health programs that will be critical to the service of first responders, active-duty military, and our honored veterans.”

According to Temecula City Manager Aaron Adams, the grant will help the hospital provide behavioral health services to “at-risk veterans, active-duty military, first responders, youth and homeless individuals in need of behavioral or mental health services.” Works in Temecula

The effort will “advance the health, safety and general well-being of the community,” Adams said in a statement released Wednesday.

In an email to Patch, the city manager further explained that, through the program, Temecula residents/employees will be eligible for coverage ranging from $5,000 to $25,000 (per patient) for emergency department behavioral care stabilization that insurance may not cover, as well as inpatient behavioral health services. Costs for convenience.

The city grant will also help fund behavioral/mental health educational intervention programs, according to the city manager.

The Temecula Valley Hospital program is led by Kelly Felton, the hospital’s licensed clinical social worker. He has worked in crisis management and stabilization, conflict resolution, research, program development, prevention and intervention, facilitating community groups and community outreach programs, according to the hospital.

John Crater, who serves as Temecula Division Chief for the Cal Fire/Riverside County Fire Department, told the Temecula City Council at the Nov. 15 meeting that mental health for crews is paramount and financial support is essential.

“We have to move on from this,” Crater said. “Our people are taking their own lives and it’s not necessary.”

The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department shares similar concerns.

A 2021 report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says law enforcement officers and firefighters are more likely to die by suicide than in the line of duty. Furthermore, EMS providers are 1.39 times more likely to die by suicide than the public.

“First responders may be at high risk for suicide because of the environment they work in, their culture, and stress, both professional and personal. This stress can be acute (related to a specific incident) or chronic (accumulation of day-to-day stress),” According to reports.

Crater said first responders see some of the worst scenarios when they respond to calls, and the funding from the city will help cover additional peer support programs, classes, therapy, comfort dogs and other treatments that can save lives.

Temecula’s remaining $14 million in ARPA funding is being used for business support, nonprofit support, homeless services, housing assistance and higher education/workforce development, according to city documents.

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