BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) – Mental health providers have a similar story across the state, more increase in the need for mental health help but a lack of providers.

Kern Behavioral Health and Recovery Services are experiencing high shortages of Behavioral Health therapists, Nurses and Medical Assistants.

“Those positions are crucial. They provide the crux of the services for the community,” Human Resources Manager Sarah Gutierrez said.

To help providers with the shortage, Governor Newsom signed The Mental Health Provider Shortage Bill this week. The bill seeks to address California’s mental health provider shortage by providing “more mental health resources to the workers’ compensation system” and “assessing and treating employees’ mental health care in a timelier manner” so the employee “can return to work sooner.”

The bill focuses on the health of employees that Director of Kern Behavioral Health and Recovery Services Stacy Kuwahara shares are fundamental to mental health treatment and provide valuable services to this community.

“Sometimes we don’t always get to see the impact of the interventions and the services that we offer to them, and other times we get to be there for really transformational moments,” Kuwahara said.

However, she understands why there is a shortage. The job itself is an act of service.

“The work that we’re doing is very challenging, the people we’re serving can be very intense, and it’s a lot to work with people that are in these kind of extreme circumstances,” Kuwahara said.

Yet, “the times where we get to see great success balance the times when you’re working really hard, and it doesn’t feel like you’re moving the bar very far,” said Kuwahara.

Kuwahara shares that success is achieved with more mental health workers stepping up to help.

To reach out to Kern Behavioral Health & Recovery Services to help as a Mental Health worker, contact or call their human resource line at 661-868-6840.