New Leadership For Our Multicultural County

Photo by Tue Nam Ton
Manuel Jiménez, Jr., the director of Alameda County Behavioral Health Care Services for more than a year, came to working in the mental health field by a circuitous route. Born in Gustine, California in the San Joaquin Valley, his family moved to Arcata when he was in the second grade. His first job was delivering newspapers and his second job was working in a Mexican restaurant. He is the second to the youngest of five brothers and sisters.

After high school, Jiménez enlisted and served in the 82nd Airborne Division, an active duty airborne infantry of the United States Army. At the end of his service, he attended St. Joseph’s Seminary in Mountain View. Jiménez did his pastoral assignment at the Department of Veterans Affairs Hospital in Menlo Park. There, as a Chaplain intern, he greeted people who were newly admitted to the hospital and visited people on the units. Jiménez co-led a group to help in the spiritual healing of veterans experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder.

His experiences at the VA Hospital so influenced him that he enrolled in Santa Clara University and completed a Masters degree in counseling psychology. Jiménez went on to work more than 20 years in the mental health field with children and adults in several California counties.

Jiménez has a vision for Alameda County and how to better serve individuals with a mental health concern. “We need more intervention and street outreach,” he said. “And, we need more engagement with the individuals who receive services.” "We need more intervention and street outreach.” Some people go to John George Psychiatric Pavilion, Alameda County’s psychiatric hospital, one or two times and end up back on the streets. Or, they are arrested once or end up in a hospital emergency room. "350 formerly homeless people with mental health issues to obtain housing"

“I would like to see them engaged in treatment,” Jiménez said. “The way people get better is when there is some person or team who they have a connection with.”

To learn more about Alameda County’s mental health system, visit


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