SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - It's important to remember what goes on in a person's head could be relative to what's happening in their body.
“The mentally ill are dying 25 years younger than the rest of the population," said Barry Schoer, Sanctuary Centers of Santa Barbara president and CEO.
People suffering from mental and behavioral health issues oftentimes are undiagnosed for other health issues like dental problems.
“We see here in Santa Barbara, they get treatment, they get told in their treatment that it’s in their head, that they should talk to their psychiatrist," said Schoer.
Two medical professionals are joining forces to create the Integrated Care Clinic which is the first of it's kind in Santa Barbara. Barry Schoer and the Sanctuary Centers have provided housing and treatment for the mentally ill for 40 years. Doctor Charles Fenzi from the Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics has provided healthcare for more than 20,000 Santa Barbara County residents.
The Integrated Care Clinic provides medical, dental and behavioral health services for adults living with mental illness, including substance use disorders.
“People who have mild mental illness and are dealing with diabetes sometimes can’t manage their diabetes because they can’t control the depression. So having a medical provider right in the same spot that you can just hand off to right away helps us increases our ability to help people with mental illnesses as well," said Dr. Charles Fenzi, Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics CEO and chief medical officer.
Each patient will have the option to have a behavior health advocate to walk them through the process that could seem daunting if they've had bad experiences with other doctors.
“My role here is to help our clients get into the door and be a friendly face when they come and welcome. Sort of ascertain their backgrounds and understand what they’re going through. Then I assist them through the entire process," said Emmy Kelly, behavior health advocate from Integrated Care Clinic.
The clinic is holding its grand opening Thursday at 4:00 p.m. on 115 W Anapamu St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101. It's open for everyone. For more information, click here.