November 10, 2021
Anita Catapusan, Behavioral Health Manager, VCBH Substance Use Services
A Dedication to Service
Every month we feature stories of individuals and agencies that are making a difference in their communities during this time of COVID-19. Today we are talking with Anita Catapusan, Behavioral Health Manager, VCBH Substance Use Services.
How did you get interested in the field of Substance Use Services? When did you get involved with your work at VCBH?
Anita: It started when I was in college for my Bachelor of Science in Nursing. During my internship in mental health and substance abuse programs, I became interested in helping patients with mental health and substance use disorders and got involved in this field. I moved from the Philippines to the United States in 1991 and immediately worked in mental health and substance use. It’s been 30 years since I began working in this field. I started in the geriatric psychiatric unit and adult mental health unit and transitioned to youth services and substance use services.
I worked for three different mental health acute hospitals within the county before I decided to work for the County of Ventura. When I started at the county in 2003, I was hired as a Utilization Review Nurse in Alcohol and Drug Programs (now Substance Use Services). In 2007, I became the Clinic Administrator for Oxnard ADP, Fillmore ADP and New Start for Moms program. I managed the Oxnard DUI program for three years prior to becoming a Behavioral Health Manager in 2017 to manage the Drug Medi-Cal Organized Delivery System of Care for the department.
I oversee the Beneficiary Substance Use Services (SUS) Access and Care Coordination Services, Drug-MediCal-Organized Delivery Services (DMC-ODS), and Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) under Substance Use Services. I also oversee the Behavioral Health Integration 3.3 and DMC-ODS Plan for Ventura County Services Providers. The Drug Medi-Cal Program offers outpatient treatment, medication assistance treatment, intensive outpatient treatment, withdrawal management, residential services, recovery support, case management and care coordination. The program is about continuity of care and assistance to the Ventura County beneficiaries who may need substance use services.
What is your passion for working in this field?
Anita: When I was in nursing school I always was fascinated with working in mental health and substance use services. It’s the dedication to help, the compassion to help, that drives me. When we help clients, I see how the coordination of care can be successful. I see how an individual can receive withdrawal management, residential services, intensive outpatient, and outpatient services, and complete treatment successfully. They get their lives back, their children, jobs and their families. That’s what keeps me going, helping helping clients to get a chance to recover from the disease of addiction.
How are you addressing issues of Health Equity in your work?
Anita: English is my second language and I see that often people cannot understand me. You must respect people, who they are, what they are, and learn to be compassionate towards others. Everyone is unique and different. One must learn to accept and respect that. It is important to educate people about equity.
What areas do you hope to make changes in?
Anita: There is so much stigma about mental health and substance use. I’m hoping to help reduce that stigma within our community and to educate more people about the services that are available to the community. I want to help connect people to services. I am also very interested in workforce development.
Tell us something that helps us get to know you better?
Anita: I am a mother of three and have been married for 31 years. I have three children, ages 19, 23 and 28 and am very proud of them. I raised them to have faith and respect for others. I am very fond of my two dogs, Koda and Jazmin. I enjoy country line dancing and love cooking Filipino food. Helping people is a dedication of mine. It takes patience, compassion and integrity. Public service is a calling and not everyone gets the opportunity to be in this position.
If you could give a closing remark for or words of inspiration for the community during this time, what would it be?
Anita: That it will get better. There is always light. This pandemic is hard for everybody but all we must be strong and have faith and know that there is always tomorrow and hope that it will get better. I really appreciate all the hardworking and dedicated staff in the Access and Care Coordination Team during this time of the pandemic. The team has gone above and beyond to help our clients during this challenging time.
For more information:
Substance Use Services Access Line: 1-800-385-9200
Thank you Anita for sharing your experience with us. You are an inspiring Driver of Change!