CHAIRWOMAN DIANNE JACOB

SUPERVISOR NATHAN FLETCHER

San Diego County Board of Supervisors

Media inquiries: Steve Schmidt, 619-206-9108, steve.schmidt@sdcounty.ca.gov

                          James Canning, 619-685-2245, james.canning@sdcounty.ca.gov

NEWS RELEASE

10/29/19

COUNTY APPROVES NEW TOOL TO HELP THOSE WITH CHRONIC MENTAL ILLNESS, ADDICTION ISSUES

The Board of Supervisors today added a new tool in the county’s expanding efforts to help those with chronic mental illness and substance abuse issues.

The county will launch a pilot program that will allow it to name a conservator to oversee treatment and services for those unable to care for themselves due to these crippling disorders.

“Conservatorship can be a critical tool to keep some of our most vulnerable residents from falling through the cracks,” said Supervisor Dianne Jacob, board chairwoman. “Mental illness and substance abuse are huge concerns across our region and today’s action is our latest step to address them.”

Supervisor Nathan Fletcher recently joined Supervisor Jacob in calling for the program after Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation to expand options for conservatorship.

"We will utilize every available tool to address the issues of behavioral health and homelessness, said Supervisor Nathan Fletcher. “With the Board’s approval today, our County can move to fully implement the conservatorship law to help those with the most severe behavioral health challenges. Ultimately, we want to build a regional, coordinated, integrated behavioral health system that prevents people from needing a conservator. Our success as a region should be judged on keeping people out of that situation, but in the interim we will utilize every option that can provide help to those most in need."

Prevention and voluntary behavioral health interventions are always the preferred option, but some individuals could benefit from a court-ordered conservatorship, which includes treatment, wrap-around services, case management and housing. 

Eligible individuals must be diagnosed seriously mentally ill with a co-occurring substance use disorder and have eight or more 72-hour involuntary hold in the proceeding 12-month period. Additionally, the court must decide, at the recommendation from the behavioral health director, that the individual would not qualify for a related outpatient treatment program, or the program would be insufficient.  

Existing county programs to help the mentally ill and addicted include IHOT, or In-Home Outreach Teams, which offer outreach and assessment for those in crisis.

Earlier this year, the board moved to create 24/7 crisis stabilization centers and bolster clinical resources and other tools for those dealing with substance abuse and mental illness.