Andy Nghiem – Lisa Wyly is the Kern Valley Health District’s (KVHD) clinical social work manager, providing mobile and in-person mental health care to the elderly, teens/school-age children and those suffering from addiction. Wyly is administering the region’s Quality Incentive Program, a grant program focused on encouraging preventative health care.
Wyly is a newly licensed clinical social worker (LCSW), having passed her licensure test in May. In this role, she provides therapy in person and also directs a mobile unit to schools to provide therapy. She helps to provide therapy for depression, anxiety and grief-related issues and trauma. She has also been a certified alcohol and drug counselor for more than 20 years.
Wyly says that one of the reasons she chose to enter the mental health field was that she recognized a need in her community and wanted to help address it.
“We live in a small community. We have limited resources,” Wyly said. “I recognized the need and wanted to be a part of the solution.”
With the support of KVHD, Wyly was able to get through the long medical education process and earn her license.
“They’ve been a great resource for me personally, and I get to give back and do even more for the community now that I’m licensed,” Wyly said.
Wyly said that she chose a career in the mental health field specifically because she saw a great need for it in her community and recognized its wide range of applications.
“Being in mental health, it’s throughout the valley, throughout families and throughout our communities,” Wyly said. “I can’t imagine anyone not being impacted either by behavioral health or substance abuse in some way.”
The mobile unit was created during the COVID-19 pandemic to provide mobile mental health services. After the pandemic, the Kern Valley Health District repurposed the mobile unit to provide behavioral health support services for students at local schools. This has improved access to mental and behavioral health services for students who may not be able to miss school or whose parents may have trouble scheduling or transportation issues.
“Oftentimes, it just provides a safe space for kids to process the emotions,” Wyly said. “Life is hard today for adults and for kids. Oftentimes they don’t have a voice in what’s going on, so I think it gives them a safe space to share openly and get appropriate support and guidance and learning tools to navigate through some of the challenges that they might have.”
Wyly added that parents have to agree and sign a consent form for children to receive services.
When asked who her biggest influences were, Wyly credited her longtime supervisor, Heather Barry, who is an LCSW who has worked in the valley for more than 30 years.
“She has supervised me since my bachelor’s program, and I actually joined her practice,” Wyly said.
“She lives a life of service to the community. She is an amazing role model and inspires me in a lot of different ways and loves our valley.”
The Quality Incentive Program is facilitated by the state’s Department of Health Care Services and judges six key metrics focused on preventative care, rather than responsive care.
“There’s a lot of different ways that health plans today are really encouraging preventative care,” Wyly said. “Instead of treating the sick person, let’s get them well so they don’t get sick in the first place.”