The Sacramento County Board of Supervisors, in their recently adopted FY15/16 budget, approved a significant increase in funding for behavioral health services. These increases implement solutions that resulted from a year-long collaborative effort between the County, healthcare providers, law enforcement and local non-profits, and will dramatically change and improve how mental health services are provided in Sacramento County.
“This is about more than restoring services that were cut during the recession,” said Patrick Kennedy, Supervisor for District 2. “This is about creating a new system with our community partners and delivering a comprehensive continuum of care that will be more responsive to the needs of those requiring mental health services.”
In 2009, due to the loss of nearly $20 million in state funding, the County restricted access to its crisis unit, and reduced the number of County in-patient psychiatric beds. As a result, many patients had few options but to go to hospital emergency rooms that were not set up to respond to the large numbers of psychiatric visits. The new approach will increase access to crisis services, provide voluntary residential options and enhanced out-patient services, and ensure navigation and access improvements to reduce hospital emergency room use.
“With the new service model, an array of community-based treatment options will be available that will hopefully reduce the number of hospitalizations and involuntary treatment events,” Hudson added. “Community treatment rather than County-centered inpatient treatment will provide better outcomes for our citizens in need of mental health services.”
Additionally, the County has begun using new mobile crisis response teams, comprised of police and mental health workers, to help address individuals’ psychiatric needs in the least intrusive way possible. This is already proving to be a promising program; the initial results have exceeded expectations, with mental health professionals and law enforcement personnel successfully linking most of the people needing help to services other than involuntary hospitalization.
Newly- funded navigators, who are able to help clients and assess the level of care needed, will soon be located at emergency rooms, Loaves and Fishes and the County jail, and will have access to many treatment options. Alcohol and Drug personnel will also be “out-stationed” in the community for quicker and more efficient assistance and intervention.
“These are rational, thoughtful improvements that were crafted with partners and made possible because hospitals, first responders, and service providers worked to reach agreement on the protocols that will determine whether clients need to go to the emergency room, in-patient treatment or community–based options,” said Paul Lake, Chief Deputy County Executive for Countywide Services. “We are creating a much better system than we had before the recession, better for the clients and the community.”