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Kaiser psychiatrist for 17-year-old son

Oct 2013

I'm desperate to find a top-notch psychiatrist in the Kaiser system for my 17-year-old son. Does not need to be a male, as my son is often more comfortable with female providers. Does need to be warm, compassionate, non-dogmatic, open to alternative approaches. I'm willing to go to pretty much any Kaiser -- San Francisco, Walnut Creek, Hayward, Fremont, etc. (Oakland and Richmond are most convenient, but I'm pretty sure there are no child psychiatrists at either of those locations who fit the bill.)

My son has very strong prejudices against taking psychiatric medications, and has had some bad experiences in the past when he's tried them. But he's dealing with some very big challenges right now (depression, anxiety, panic, sleep difficulties, PTSD following a bad drug experience and hospitalization, possible mood disorder), and it's not clear that he's going to be able to get through this without at least a short course of medication. But it will take a VERY skilled and compassionate psychiatrist to convince him to give it a try and stay the course until he gets results. Anon

We have had some really awful experiences with Kaiser pediatric psychiatrists, and we have had extraordinarily good experiences and care for our child from Dr. Roy Eyal at Kaiser Richmond. He is kind, compassionate, flexible, willing to work with us, skilled at dealing with our difficult teen... in short, amazing. Wishing you all the best
Has anyone recommended Dr. Wymes to you? He is out of Kaiser Oakland. He is wonderful. My son is too young to really be resistant to medication, but I sure was and I found Dr. Wymes to be extremely warm and supportive, but also firm. I really appreciated his patience in helping me through what was the hardest decision I've ever had to make as a parent. I really can not recommend him highly enough. I read the previous reviews on BPN and have to disagree 100%. I feel like Dr. Wymes saved my family. We were really in hell, but didn't know there was a better way. Anonymous
I recommend Dr. Richard Roston at Kaiser Oakland. He is very compassionate, thoughtful, and also specializes in mindfulness-based approaches to managing depression, etc. If you can get an appointment with him, he is great! take care
Your son sounds a lot like my son with similar issues and possible PTSD after traumatic and harmful hospitalization. My son is extremely resistant to medications too. We ended up sending him to a short term program to get intensive cognitive therapy. It helped somewhat and made him more open to therapy going forward.
I'm afraid I can't suggest a psychiatrist, but I do want to encourage you to look into the support groups offered by the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill ( They are offered in a multi-week series and are very focused, almost like trainings on how to cope with a loved one's mental illness. Very helpful. I was there for a spouse, but I think more people attend as a parent. There are NAMI chapters in most counties, the groups are free, and I can't recommend them enough. You learn about various types of mental illness, how to respond, how to cope with symptoms, etc. I thought of you because I still remember a couple who attended the same group I was in because their son had had a psychotic break after a drug overdose. you're in my thoughts; good luck

Recommendation for kaiser pediatric psychiatrist

July 2013

Hi. My 12 year old son and I are looking for a compassionate psychiatrist in the Kaiser Permanente system. Preferably, an doctor sensitive to anxiety and adolescents. We live in Alameda and are open to traveling to a Bay Area office to work with the best match for my son.

Dr. Wymes at Kaiser Oakland is fantastic. He worked with us around our son's behavior issues. My son's primary issue is not anxiety, but mine probably is and I found Dr. Wymes to be incredibly reassuring. I always felt better after seeing him. He is really charismatic, has a great sense of humor, is knowledgable, and does a wonderful job quickly building rapport and putting people at ease. I can not recommend Dr. Wymes highly enough. The process of medication trials with your child is horrible, but now that I am on the other end of it, our lives have all been changed for the better. Our household is so peaceful, something unimaginable a year ago. Good luck to you and your family! Anonymous
We have consulted several times with Dr. Wymes, a pediatric psychiatrist at Oakland Kaiser, for our 12- year-old son's ADD meds. Dr. Wymes is friendly in a low key way, he's a good listener, and he is extremely knowledgable about the array of options and treatments. He explains the options thoroughly, and works with the kid and the parents to suggest various strategies. We've been very happy with him. local mom
Dr. Tamar Gershon, in Child Psychiatry in Oak. Kaiser saved our child's life. She was able to diagnose and prescribe the perfect treatment when numerous other doctors including some private (famous) psych. could not. She is always monitoring him throughout the years and being sure his condition is maintained. He is now happy and productive and joyful.. after long time misery and fright for him and our whole family. Did I hear ''not returning calls?''. really.... if you know the kaiser system, management continues to increase , increase and increase these doctors caseloads without any more support or time... part of Health Care Crisis. We are so blessed that Dr. Gershon stays at Kaiser when so many excellent doctors leave. She has ALWAYS returned our calls in the time frame we would expect as well as emails. We can also get appointments when needed in record time. Dr. Gershon is well-known and respected at the local , state and national level. We are so lucky to have her in Oakland. I know many , many families who feel the same way as we do, but do not see this network. Those of you who need help.. go to Dr. Gershon at Kaiser Oakland. as we've said, we will be eternally grateful for her saving our son's life and helping our whole family recover from the issues we've had to face. Take care Dolores

Kaiser Child Psychiatrist for bipolar 10yo

Feb 2012

We are looking for a Kaiser child psychiatrist who understands that early-onset (juvenile) bipolar disorder manifests differently than adult bipolar. We need a psychiatrist for our 10-year-old who is open-minded, smart, and keeps up on the latest research. Willing to travel anywhere in the Bay Area to see someone who really understands and is willing to treat childhood bipolar disorder. Our current doctor uses the DSM-IV criteria (which were written for adults) for bipolar in children, which has been very inappropriate. Concerned parent

I don't have a specific recommendation for a Kaiser psychiatrist, but after spending nearly six years at Kaiser Oakland, I can give you some advice about the psychiatrists there --stay away from them. My son saw Dr. Gershon for anxiety and anger/depression issues and we were not impressed. We tried to switch to another psychiatrist in that office, and were not allowed to do so. We could never get her on the phone, as it was always full of messages, or she was unavailable to take messages. Not a good situation when you need a quick call-back for an urgent problem. ex-Kaiser patient
I want to second the previous comment to avoid Dr. Gershon, Child Psychiatrist at Kaiser Oakland. Our experience was the same as that of the previous responder. Our child saw her for anxiety/ depression issues. We could never get Dr. Gershon on the phone, and never had a call back from her to messages we left. In addition, the Receptionist clearly hated her job and took it out in negativity and rigidity/ unwillingness to help us at times. (This was acknowledged by the Dr. we were seeing at the time). Interacting with this grumpy and sometimes unhelpful person was really unpleasant. I think you may have better luck at the Kaiser Richmond Child Psychiatry dept. Best of luck. Wishing you well.

Psychiatrist specialized in pregnancy

Dec 2011

Can anyone give me a recent recommendation for a psychiatrist that is good with pregnancy, it is about the topic of antidepressants during pregnancy. Thank you. Hopeful

If you are a Kaiser patient, I can recommend Elisa Rambo, a psychiatrist at Kaiser Oakland. She does not necessarily specialize in pregnancy, but is very knowledgeable about depression and pregnancy. Before getting pregnant, I spent an entire appointment with her going over the research on anti-depressants and pregnancy/breast-feeding (she had recently given a presentation on the topic and was incredibly well versed in the research). The information and guidance she provided at that point was instrumental in me making informed decisions about my mental health care during pregnancy, which for me meant continuing to take anti-depressant medication. While pregnant, I worked with her to monitor my anti-depressant dosage and adjust as needed. Work with a psychiatrist during your pregnancy to manage any medications for mental health issues; in my experience, OB-GYNs and nurse midwives do not know enough and are too quick to recommend going off necessary (and safe) medications. SSRI-taker through pregnancy/breasfeeding with happy and healthy toddler

Good Psychiatrist at Kaiser for suicidal friend

Oct 2007

An adult person I know is on the verge of suicide. He just got coverage by Kaiser; does anyone know of a really good psychiatrist in Kaiser Richmond or Oakland? This person is reluctant to try therapy because he has tried several time in past and didn't help, including meds, however, may be able to get them to try again. Looking for a therapist who will not just prescribe pills but get to the root of the problem, hopefully. Thanks for ANY suggestions. Extremeley Concerned

There are many wonderful therapists and psychiatrists at Richmond Kaiser. I went through a time of severe depression with suicidal thoughts and they helped me work through it. At Kaiser, your friend would probably have both a therapist and a psychiatrist (drug prescriber).

As for psychiatrists, I highly recommend Dr. Anne Menahemy. She's so much more than a drug prescriber! She actually listens. She is warm, thoughtful, conscientious and really goes out of her way to help her patients. She is not quick to prescribe medicine. She will tell all the pros and cons of a medication if she really thinks it could help.

I also wanted to recommend the Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP). I can't say enough about this amazing program. It meets for three hours, three days a week and your friend will have a whole team of caring therapists to work with him through this hard time. I realize a group setting might be too much at first... but that high level of attention, through one-on-one visits, group therapy and an educational approach saved my life.

The psych department at Kaiser Richmond also has great education programs too. (not health ed - those are different)

You are good to ask about this for your friend's sake. I wouldn't be here if a similar friend hadn't helped me make that first appointment. anon

I found Dr. Jeanne Leventhal at Kaiser Oakland through this list & she's the best psychiatrist I've ever had- & I thought my past ones were excellent! I have a chronic, genetic mood disorder that makes me very susceptible to depression, & she recognized that I'd never been sufficiently treated for it right off & started aggressively adjusting my medications.

I was seriously clinically depressed & suicidal when I first saw her & she got me out of that quite quickly. The lower grade chronic depression and mood instability I have is much trickier to treat & we're still working on that. My particular genetic (& permanent, I'll be on meds for the rest of my life) mood disorder is known to be difficult to treat & mine has proved to be especially difficult. She's the first doc who's ever said to me ''I can get you through this & out the other side'', & based on my experience so far, I believe her.

She's difficult to get in to see, she's one of the docs to whom difficult cases are referred, & she's been out on an extended emergency leave for several weeks so is probably going to be especially backed up when she returns to work next weeek. I had to pretty much insist on her & then wait 6-8 (I don't remember exactly) for a first appointment. If your friend can get an appointment with her & IF he can hold on for a few weeks, I highly recommend her.

If he can get an appt with Jeanne but is so seriously suicidal that he can't safely wait a few weeks, then he might try to get in to see Dr. Adam Travis at Kaiser Union City while he's waiting for Jeanne. I don't know if they'd let him make appts with two different doctors at the same time at Oakland (each Kaiser has its own set of protocols), but I'm pretty sure that he can make one there & one at a different facility (don't ask, just try to do it- I have).

Adam is a lovely person & a very competent psychiatrist, not as experienced or creative as Jeanne is, & when I got in serious difficulty I needed more help than he was able to give. But like I said, my case is especially difficult. He won't be offended if your friend wants to use him as a stop-gap, & in my experience it's easier to get in to see a psychiatrist at Union City than in Oakland.

But- if he needs to see someone NOW, if he can't wait more than a few days without being in real danger of killing himself, then he needs to say that loud & clear when he calls Kaiser, and he needs to insist on seeing someone right away. ANY psychiatrist is better than none if you're ready to jump off a bridge.

He's not going to get more than group therapy at Oakland. They will probably want him to go to their depression group which is cognitive therapy. My opinion, from my own experience, is that although cog ther can be very useful for people with mild to moderate depression, especially if it's situational, it's not appropriate for someone who is clinically & suicidally depressed. The reason I think that is because a big part of cog ther is doing little exercises, & when a person is to the point of being suicidal they're usually literally incapable of doing things like that, & it can become more evidence to them that they're a hopeless failure.

Everyone's different & maybe he wouldn't feel that way about it but I'd suggest he consider maybe holding off on doing the group until he's in better shape. Kaiser will push him to do it right away, cog ther people are totally convinced that it works for anyone & everyone.

Jeanne Leventhal has a very upfront personality, which I really like, but it's possible that some people might find her a bit abrasive. Don't let that fool you, she really cares about her patients. Anon

Looking for a Richmond Kaiser psychiatrist

March 2004

Hello - I'm looking for recommendations for the following Richmond Kaiser pyschiatrists for treatment of long-term chronic depression: Fuensanta Botello, Christopher Eaton and Anne Marie Menahemy. Thank you very much. anon

My wife has been under Dr. Botello's care for the last 1-2 months, for depression triggered by peri-menopause. I don't know if this is normal, but she sees *3* different doctors at Kaiser Richmond: her regular physician, a psychologist (who does most of the counseling), and Dr. Botello, a psychiatrist, who does most of the medication prescriptions. Her regular physician did the initial prescription, but Dr. Botello has taken over. My wife said Dr. Botello is pleasant enough, but her main goal is to find you the right kind of medication, minimizing side effects, etc., and doesn't tend to do much counseling... her appt's can be half an hour, or even a bit less. Viewed solely on the basis of dealing with the meds, I think my wife is satisfied with Dr. Botello. Hope that helps a little bit!?

Therapist/psych for alternative meds

March 2004

If by any chance you have Kaiser, I work with an excellent psychiatrist there who is very knowledgeable about alternative treatments as well as conventional ones. He is Rafael Gray, 415-833-3181.

I take medication, which I am comfortable with and has saved my life, and I also take some supplements that he has recommended which do have benefits for me. I asked him once if he ever used only alternative treatments, and he said he has with patients who were completely anti-medication. He is a non-nonsense guy who can come across as abrupt, but from 2 years of working with him I know that he is not only very knowledgeable, but also very compassionate. He returns my calls the same day (or the next day that he is in his office), and he even answers his own phone!

During long years of battling depression, I tried many alternative treatments, including homeopathy but not biofeedback, and none of them helped me. So eventually I got over my fears of medication, went through many trials, and finally found a combo of drugs that works for me.

I like to encourage people to stay open-minded all around- to alternative as well as conventional treatments, but to not give up on conventional treatments. It can take a lot of persistence to hang in there with drug trials and side effects, and you must work with someone who you trust and can communicate well with. I have a friend who has been experiencing terrible depression for the last 2 years as he has bounced from one alternative therapy to another. It pains me to watch him. I have much understanding and empathy from my own experience, and I know how hard it can be to trust and be rational when depression has you in its grip.

Psychiatric services at Kaiser for 10 year old

January 2003

I am interested in seeking psychiatric services for my 10 year old son. Smart but unmotivated, feels inadequate, fearful, opositional behavior at home and at school, etc. We have Kaiser and I'd like to hear from parents who have had experience from any of the following Kaiser psychiatrists: Harold Bornstein, Michael Wymes, Virginia Wolfe, Robin Asher, Alexander Tribe Thanks! su

While I know you're asking about a psychiatrist, if you're interested in going the therapy route I HIGHLY recommend Larry Liebman. My 8 year old son has been visiting him for a couple of months and while my son still struggles, it has helped immensely. They have developed a great repoire, and he is very open to working with the entire family, if you desire.
Virginia Wolfe is the Chief of Psychiatry at Richmond Kaiser. She is outstanding. I work with her and would recommend her for your son. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions. Joyce.
Virginia Wolf used to be the psychiatrist for the pediatric patients at San Francisco General Hospital. I work in the same clinic and my impression is that she is very highly regarded by the pediatricians at San Francisco General Hospital, they were very sorry to see her leave. She is a thoughtful, compassionate type of person. She has experience with meds, of course, but didn't seem to recommend them routinely. She also provided on-going counseling to patients, not just medication prescribing. I would highly recommend her based on her reputation at the General. Jennifer
We have had two visits and a few phone calls with Dr. Wymes re: medication for our ADD daughter, so our experience is quite limited. I found him thorough, smart and forthright, but not hugely warm and fuzzy. He was responsive to calls and followed up well. Good luck with everything.
We have worked closely with Dr. Wymes over the last year at Oakland Kaiser. We agree that initially he does not come across as warm and fuzzy but our experience has been that he has been extremely responsive to our needs and very compassionate. He always returns phone calls even if it is at 7pm in the evening before he goes home. He has often called on a Friday evening to let us know what he was doing about a particular issue so that we did not have to wonder all weekend what was going on. He has welcomed our input into the process and is very willing to consider different options while making good arguments for his final decision. He has not hesitated to consult other professionals, both in and out of Kaiser, which we find very reasssuring. He initially recommended therapy(did not go straight to medication) and now works very closely with my child's therapist. We had a bad experience with the Kaiser Psychiatry Department until my pediatrician put us in contact with Dr. Wymes but we consider ourselves lucky to have this combination of therapist and psychiatrist at this point. Good luck!
My wife and son saw Harold Bornstein briefly. She thought he was too brief and ready to prescribe without uncovering what was really going on. Our son has now improved tremendously without meds. My wife's favorite person was Kate Mountain, not a psychiatrist but a PhD. She would be happy to talk with you about her experience with other staff members there if you are interested. nils

Psychiatrist for Medication management

October 2002

I'd appreciate recommendations on psychiatrists at Kaiser Oakland to do medication management. I see a therapist out of the Kaiser network, but she is not an M.D. Modification of antidepressent medication is not a topic I feel my Kaiser internist would know that much about.

My husband has been working with Dr. Levitt (Kaiser Oakland) for a number of years now and really likes/trusts him. anon
I worked with Dr. Harris (male) at Kaiser Oakland. He was very responsive to my needs and knowledgable about the different medications. I recommend him highly. anon
Hi, Having been a Kaiser Oakland employee, I suggest you talk to your internist about which psychiatrist he or she recommends for you. The psychiatrists have different personalities and areas of expertise, and your internist might be able to point you to a good match. Most internists now also have a good knowledge of antidepressant treatment, so you might not need to go to psych after all. Good luck. AL

Family Psychiatry, Oakland Kaiser

Re: African American therapist for teen
Dear Mom with Clashing Son and Husband: If you have a membership with Kaiser Permanente which includes mental health benefits, I highly recommend their family psychiatry department over in the Mosswood building at the Oakland facility. They have two outstanding Black male professionals on staff (and perhaps others whom I am not personally familiar with). Dr. Whitmore and Dr. Simmons counsel both adults and children in individual sessions and in groups organized for early/pre-teen children. You will need to inquire as to whether your situation meets their criteria for obtaining services and of course, they are probably already very busy. But for serious family problems affecting our children, Kaiser members should be aware that affordable help can be obtained. Good luck. Nicolie
Rosco Simmons at Kaiser, Oakland is excellent.
One of the other therapists in my building used to be a Kaiser Oakland therapist, so I asked him. He suggested Dr. Roscoe Simmons and Dr. Gerald Whitmore of the child and adolescent unit. The number to call for appointments is 596-2737. Good luck. Vicki
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