Mental health center opens in Visalia

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- South Valley officials celebrated the opening of Tulare County's second mental health wellness center Wednesday.

Tulare County Supervisors purchased the Visalia property in late 2016.

Earlier this year, they selected Fresno-based Kings View to operate the outpatient facility.

Kings View also runs the Porterville Wellness Center, which opened in the spring of 2017.

And like Porterville, the Visalia center will offer a variety of services to people with mental illness and their families in a safe and comfortable setting.

"...including groups on mental health diagnoses all the way to learning how to cook a nutritious meal, socialization opportunities, linkages with other community agencies on site," said Kings View Behavioral Health Executive Director Colleen Overholt.

The new Visalia center is a little larger than the Porterville site, and will likely serve more people.

It includes a computer room, kitchen, and outside - a gazebo and garden.

Overholt says the center will serve those who have already come far in their pursuit of mental health wellness.

Tulare County's mental health branch will identify clients, but everyone is welcome at the center.

"Once people are stable and ready to build their skill sets in order to be even more successful, that's where we can step in and help," she said.

When the Visalia project was first discussed in 2016, dozens protested the proposed Lovers Lane site, which is near homes and not far from an elementary school.

But the project moved forward, and on Wednesday, officials addressed anyone who may have lingering concerns, saying there's nothing to fear.

"We have put things in place where this facility will provide that safe environment for not only the individuals that visit this facility but for all of the residents of Tulare County," said Tulare County mental Health Director Donna Ortiz.

"And again, this is a non-treatment facility. This is for those individuals that are on the spectrum and on the road to recovery and doing quite well in the community."

The official grand opening of the center is on Friday.

Services at the center are free, and are funded by the state's Mental Health Services Act.
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