John Onate, MD


Dr. Onate is Board-Certified in Psychiatry and Internal Medicine with deep experience in comprehensive medical care for mental illness, particularly severe mental illness and depression. He has over twenty years of experience treating a wide variety of patients.

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More about John Onate, MD

Originally a music major in college, Dr. John Onate leaned towards pursuing science and biology after his first year. He began to consider medicine as his long-term goal. He felt it would fit with his science acumen and combine well with his broader interests in sociology and anthropology, as well as his desire to work directly with people. Once in medical school and residency, he combined psychiatry and internal medicine as the path that best helped him breakdown barriers of physical vs. mental health and enabled him to treat his patients more holistically.

He has continually fought the stigma sometimes associated with mental illness and increased access to treatment throughout his career, as both an educator and a psychiatrist. In treating patients, he adapts his role as a physician to meet their style and work collaboratively with them to help them as best as he can. His background as an educator helps him explain his treatment plans, and ensure the entire person is taken care of and on a thoughtful path towards healing.

Dr. Onate has a strong interest in interventional psychiatry, especially Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) and Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS). For him, these are both targeted treatments that also give more information on the brain and brain health and can assist with the more severe cases of mental illness and depression. He used ECT for patient treatments during residency and assisted in some of the initial work with TMS as well. He believes they are powerful tools that can aid patients in finding relief and recovery.

He joined Mindful Health Solutions in the late fall of 2020.

Personal Interests

Having lived in the Sacramento area for many years, Dr. Onate appreciates the diversity of people and geography. He enjoys spending time in the mountains with his two dogs and his wife. He likes photography and cooking. He is a big proponent of the impact of nature, diet, and exercise on the mind and body and enjoys trail running.

Education & Experience

Dr. Onate completed his undergraduate in biology from the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, graduating cum laude.

He received his medical degree from the University of Mississippi in Jackson, Mississippi.

Following graduation, he completed his Combined Internal Medicine and Psychiatry Residency at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, Illinois. He became Chief Resident of the program, providing leadership and mentorship to fellow residents and students. He was also a member of the Education Committee, which was responsible for the development and review of the curriculum for the residency program at Rush. In his residency, he provided HIV Primary Care and Psychiatric Care under the supervision of HIV Specialists from both Medicine and Psychiatry HIV Clinic at CORE Center, Cook County/Rush University Medical Center.

He also completed the Teaching Scholar Faculty Development Program at the University of Davis School of Medicine, a six-month program on enhancing skills and leadership in medical education. He has continued to be an educator throughout his career.

Moving to Sacramento, he was a Psychiatrist at the Sacramento County Mental Health Treatment Center, attending in the crisis unit, a psychiatric emergency room, and supervising residents and medical students.

He served as Internist-Psychiatrist and Educator at Sacramento Primary Care Clinic, providing outpatient psychiatric and medical care to the uninsured and indigent population and supervision of residents and medical students.

He continued to pursue his love of education, and joined the faculty for the UC Irvine and UC Davis collaborative program-Train New Trainers (TNT) Post Residency Training Program. This innovative and award-winning program provides advanced training and mentorship for primary care providers in both providing mental health care and improving integration where they work. He provided monthly mentorship for primary care physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants in treating mental illness and substance use in the primary care setting, and became a content expert and lecturer for the program.

As Medical Director for the County of Sacramento Primary Health Center, Dr. Onate provided management and oversight of clinical services including medical and behavioral health services. During this time, he aided in the development of the Pediatric Clinic and expanded the training program at the health center to include PA/NP students and pediatric residents.

Dr. Onate continues to serve as Director-Integrated Behavioral Health at the Sacramento Primary Care Clinic. In his role, he has expanded clinical services to substance use treatment and medication-assisted therapy and improved coordination of care and transition programs from County Mental Health Clinics. He has also expanded the Integrated Health Team to include behavioral health counselors and substance use counselors and developed the process to administer long-acting injectable antipsychotic medication in the primary care setting.

He also is on the faculty of the University of California Davis, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, where is a Professor of Psychiatry and teaches medical students and residents along with providing both medical and psychiatric care for patients with severe mental illness.

Dr. Onate has published several articles and book chapters in the field of primary care preventative health and psychiatry. He has spoken nationally on the subject of integration, collaboration in medical and mental health care, addiction medicine, sports psychiatry, and exercise as a treatment for depression. He has also appeared on the PBS medical program “Second Opinion.”

Certifications & Memberships

  • Member, American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology
  • Member, American Board of Internal Medicine
  • Member, American Psychiatric Association
  • Member, Association of Medicine and Psychiatry
  • Member, California Psychiatric Association
  • Member, Central California Psychiatric Society


Onate J. Depression in Ultra-endurance Athletes, A Review and Recommendations. Sports Med Arthosoc Rev. vol 7. No. 1. March 2019. 31-34

Book Chapter. HIV/AIDS. Study Guide to Preventive Medical Care in Psychiatry A Case Approach. 2017.ISBN 978-1-61537-057-3

Book Chapter. HIV/AIDS. Preventive Medical Care in Psychiatry A Practical Guide for Clinicians.2015.ISBN 978-1-58562-479-9

Xiong GL, Iosif AM, Suo S, Mccarron RM, Koike A, Onate J, Carter CS. Understanding preventive health screening services use in persons with serious mental illness: how does integrated behavioral health primary care compare? Int J Psychiatry Med. 2015;48(4):279-98.

Onate J. Use of Psychiatric Drugs in Patients With Hepatitis C. Psychopharm Review. Vol 45. No 3. March 2010. 17-24.

Onate J, Xiong G, McCarron R. Lippincott’s Primary Care Psychiatry, Book Chapter: The Primary Care Psychiatric Assessment. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. April 2009

Onate J, Hales R, McCarron R, Han J, Pitman D. A Novel Approach To Medicine Training For Psychiatry Residents. Acad Psychiatry. 2008 Nov-Dec;32(3):249-54.

Bourgeois JA, Ton H, Onate J, McCarthy T, Stevenson FT, Servis ME, Wilkes MS. The doctoring curriculum at the University of California, Davis School Of Medicine: leadership and participant roles for psychiatry faculty. Acad Psychiatry. 2008 May-Jun;32(6).

Fancher TL, Kamboj A, Onate J. Interpreting Liver Function Tests. Current Psychiatry. 2007 May; Vol. 6(5).

Onate J, Psychiatric Consultation in Outpatient Primary Care Settings: Should Consultation Change to Collaboration? Primary Psychiatry, June 2006: Volume 13(6).

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