I have been a board member for Mentis (formerly known as Family Service Napa Valley) for almost eight years. Over these years, I have had the pleasure to witness the transformation of Napa’s oldest charitable organization from a small, almost obscure, mental health services agency to its recent re-embodiment as Mentis: Napa Valley’s Center for Mental Health.

The agency weathered the darkest days of the recession by self-imposing fiscal restraint and maintaining focus on its core mission of ensuring access to professional, bi-lingual, mental health services to citizens regardless of age, stage or income level.

This was especially critical during a period when people were even more desperate for treatment because of the financial chaos so many families endured. Taking this focused approach prepared the agency for its next chapter.

As the then-Family Service of Napa Valley continued to increase its support throughout the county, working within our schools, inside our hospitals and providing embedded critical clinical therapy to other crisis and family focused agencies in the county, it established a new foundation for its future, one that was based on collaboration, outreach, education and efficiency.

With the enduring support of major contributors like the Napa Valley Vintners and the Gasser Foundation, its engaged board of directors and the Napa community, the agency blossomed in the recovery and embarked on a journey of self-exploration that would ultimately move it forward with a fresh new look and a clarity of vision for its next 65 years and more as - Mentis.

In a time when the discussion about mental illness can be limited to statistics, funding issues and newspaper headlines of horrific tragedies, it is important to remember that mental health is an issue for everyday people – our neighbors, our friends, and our families. This is what makes the services of Mentis so vital to us all.

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Under the successful leadership of Executive Director Rob Weiss, the agency continues to thrive as one of our most important community resources. Every day, the clinical professionals of Mentis provide clients with the support and counseling they need to live emotionally healthy lives in order to create a community of enduring strength.

I encourage every citizen of Napa to educate themselves about Mentis’ mission, about its programs, and its wide range of services (animal assisted therapy, psychotherapy, temporary and long-term housing to name a few) so that should the need arise, we all know where to turn. To learn more about Mentis, their upcoming events or to offer your support, visit MentisNapa.org.

Christopher Barefoot

Board member and chairman emeritus

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