County of San Diego
The San Diego County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the County’s new three-year Mental Health Services Plan Oct. 11 that increases spending, improves current mental health programs and adds new ones to help children, seniors, homeless and others who may suffer from mental illnesses or disorders.
The approved plan proposes to spend $197.5 million, a $15 million increase, in the 2017-18 fiscal year that runs from July 1 through June 30. The three-year plan runs from fiscal year 2017-18 through fiscal year 2019-20.
Among other actions, the new plan, which was created with broad community input, will improve several existing County mental health programs by:
- Adding 10 new Psychiatric Emergency Response Teams (PERT) to the County’s system to improve crisis response, bringing its total to 50. The program teams up licensed behavioral health clinicians with specially-trained sheriff’s deputies or police officers to respond to and help resolve law enforcement calls that involve people with serious mental health issues.
- Providing treatment services and housing as part of Project One for All, a program the County created in January 2016 to help people experiencing homelessness and mental health issues by providing housing and intensive “wraparound” support. Wraparound refers to services where different support groups team up to provide seamless support: mental health, substance abuse, social services and access to medical care.
- Expanding the Children’s Emergency Screening Unit program and adding to the Short-term Acute Residential Treatment (START) programs by providing 24-hour nursing staff at various locations.
- Fully funding two North County Crisis Stabilization Services programs.
- Enhancing Institutional Case Management program to help older adults suffering from serious mental illnesses re-integrate into the community.
The plan will also fund innovative programs. Some include Peripartum, which teams up County behavioral health with public health nurses to identify new parents who may be at risk of depression or anxiety and finds them help; and expanding the CREST Mobile Hoarding Program, which provides treatment for older adults with extreme hoarding behaviors stay in their homes rather than face evictions.
Some of the new programs include: services to support individuals with serious mental illnesses and co-occurring disorders transitioning from the justice system back into the community; a full range of mental health treatment services for LGBTQ youth, including support groups and mentorship programs for youth, family members, caregivers and partners; and therapeutic services for commercially sexually exploited youth, including survivor advocacy, drop-in centers and alumni mentorship programs for youth who have been, or are, at risk.
County Health and Human Services Agency staff said Tuesday that the plan’s goals were to address treatment for homeless persons; help law enforcement connect people with mental health issues to clinicians and services; provide more wrap-around services; and to strive to cut suicides to zero.
The Mental Health Services Program is funded by Proposition 63, the Mental Health Services Act that California voters approved in 2004. The act imposes a 1 percent tax on California residents who make $1 million or more, to help pay for mental health programs.
For more information about the County’s behavioral health program, go to www.sandiegocounty.gov/content/sdc/hhsa/programs/bhs.html