Mental Health Peers
Tulare County Implements Patient-Led Treatment

About this project

Using a slice of billions of dollars from the Mental Health Services Act, rural Tulare has accomplished more than most California counties--innovating and helping even the most severely afflicted patients guide their own recovery.


Dr. Mark Ragins and Summer McLane

A pioneer sees the patient's perspective

Dr. Mark Ragins thrusts his palm forward, like a traffic cop instructing cars to stop. He’s discussing the struggles of mental health treatment in California, and tells a story about a patient who reinforces his belief in a different model.
Maria Antunez of Fresno

Mental health team embedded in primary care

The depression started after Maria Antunez was diagnosed with breast cancer. Without warning, tears would fall and not stop.
Steven Moyer plays a video game

Patient, Heal Thyself

Steven Moyer was prescribed anti-depression medication to help him focus on a new start, but the teenager swallowed the pills in search of an end.

Tulare County mental health consumer Mark James: Life began when he tried to kill himself

The walnut trees stood abundant and ordered against the night sky, in sharp contrast to the life of Mark James.

Tulare County mental health consumer Mike Rivera: Three months sober from meth addiction

The eyes of Mike Rivera dart from spot to spot, as if there’s a threat around every Visalia street corner.

Tulare County mental health: New way to treat those most ill

Wanda Irons was curled up in the back of the Tulare County Mental Health Department cruiser, sedated for her trip to the Kaweah Delta mental health facility that had become her second home.


"We are going to try to instill hope that there is recovery from this illness, and that patients don't have to be ashamed."  --Timothy Durick, director of the Tulare County Department of Mental Health


John Gonzales

John Gonzales

Senior writer John Gonzales specializes in the demographics of health policy. He was most recently based in New Orleans as Southern Regional Correspondent for the Associated Press. He covered efforts to rebuild from Hurricane Katrina, as well as immigration and the shifting demographics of The South. Gonzales previously was Hispanic Affairs reporter at Newsday -- a beat that took him from New York's emerging Mexican neighborhoods, to the U.S. border region, to rural Mexican towns. His "Texas Smuggling" articles won the National Association of Hispanic Journalists best breaking news award in 2004. He was also awarded The Freedom Forum’s North American Journalist Exchange fellowship in 2001. Gonzales spent the early part of his 15-year journalism career on the staffs of The Daily Breeze and the Gardena Valley News. He is a USC Annenberg graduate, with honors, and a dual major in political science. He is also a Spanish speaker and graduate of the Los Angeles Times Minority Editorial Training Program, or METPro.

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