CHAIRWOMAN DIANNE JACOB
SUPERVISOR KRISTIN GASPAR
San Diego County Board of Supervisors
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SUPERVISORS VOTE TO CREATE 24/7 CRISIS CENTERS, BOLSTER RESOURCES FOR THOSE WITH MENTAL ILLNESS, ADDICTION ISSUES
The Board of Supervisors today agreed to create 24/7 crisis stabilization centers and bolster clinical resources and other tools to help those dealing with mental illness and addiction.
Board chairwoman Dianne Jacob proposed the improvements in her State of the County address in February. Supervisor Kristin Gaspar, District Attorney Summer Stephan and Sheriff Bill Gore teamed up with her to formally bring them to the board.
The initiatives grow out of a broader, regional effort to beef up behavioral health care.
“We must do a better job of connecting those with chronic mental health and addiction issues with the services and programs they need,” Supervisor Jacob said. “When it comes to addressing the behavioral health of San Diegans, we have failed some of our most vulnerable residents. We need to step up and do right by them. Today is a big move in that direction.”
The board voted to create a network of community-based crisis stabilization centers, starting in North County. An exact location has not been determined, but county Health and Human Services Agency officials say the north region has the greatest immediate need.
The centers will offer psychiatric care, medication and other help, and will connect patients to long-term services and programs. The centers will include law enforcement drop-off.
District Attorney Summer Stephan said the board’s action is a leap forward, advancing some of the concrete recommendations in the DA’s Blueprint for Mental Health Reform, which was released earlier this year.
“These next steps represent the start of a sea change in the way we approach this issue and will help keep people who are facing a mental health crisis from falling through the cracks,” said DA Stephan. “Mental health urgent care centers can provide a safe, effective and compassionate alternative to jail or a crowded emergency room for those in crisis, along with an after-care system that will continue to stabilize and support those individuals. It’s a ‘win-win’ when we can provide treatment and keep the community safe at the same time.”
The board also agreed to pursue the creation of non-law enforcement mobile crisis response teams. Law enforcement will be able to call in these teams to provide immediate clinical help in the field.
The county PERT program, or Psychiatric Emergency Response Teams, will continue to respond to the most serious incidents. There are currently 53 PERT teams, with funding in place to grow that number to 70.
“The Sheriff's Department collaboratively partners with providers and community-based entities to effectively respond to people who are experiencing a mental health crisis,” Sheriff Bill Gore said. “PERT clinicians are available 24 hours a day to respond with deputies to people in need. Our intent and focus is to de-escalate each situation, making it safer for everyone involved. We continue to invest with our community partners to successfully navigate these situations and welcome the support of the Board of Supervisors to institute solutions to this wide-reaching problem.”
The county is moving to bolster follow-up services for those helped through PERT or any law enforcement contact.
The improvements green-lit today were detailed in the first item on the board agenda.
Supervisor Gaspar put a spotlight on behavioral health issues while serving as board chairwoman last year.
“As a society, we must take a meaningful look into how we support and restore those among us who have been deeply affected by trauma in their lives,” she said. “We are fundamentally addressing the entire continuum of care for people who are in crisis, from prevention and early intervention to long-term care and recovery.”