What We Do
The County of San Luis Obispo Behavioral Health Department collaborates with the community to provide services that improve and maintain the health and safety of individuals and families affected by mental illness and/or substance abuse. Behavioral health services are designed to assist in the recovery process and achieve the highest quality of life by providing culturally competent, strength-based, client- and family-centered strategies utilizing best practices.
What We Did in 2014
Big Changes for Mental Health, Substance Abuse Treatment
The County’s Behavioral Health Department is commissioned by the State of California to provide local, eligible residents with access to services and programs that help them control mental or substance use illnesses and improve their lives. Anyone can call 1-(800)-838-1381 for a screening.
In 2014, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) expanded MediCal eligibility for many poverty-stricken individuals. Previously, many single adults without children in the home were ineligible for Medi-Cal, no matter their income level.
Thanks to this new change, and through a new program managed through CenCal Health, almost 3,000 mental health visits during the first six months of 2014 were provided to Medi-Cal patients who began to experience mild to moderate mental health concerns. Previously, Medi-Cal treatment was only available to people with the most serious mental illness challenges. Treating these illnesses early on is an important part in preventing further mental health decline.
Additional benefits for substance use disorder treatment also began last year. Medi-Cal recipients gained access to voluntary intensive outpatient treatment as well as standard outpatient treatment.
In 2014, the Behavioral Health Department also made some significant achievements and expanded services to better serve the community.
The department received a grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to expand the Behavioral Health Treatment Court Collaborative, a partnership with the Superior Court of San Luis Obispo, the Department of Probation and local community stakeholders. The grant funding will be awarded in four annual installments of $374,000.
Additionally, the County’s Behavioral Health Department integrated all of its forensics programs to serve clients involved in the criminal justice system holistically.Formerly, clients who have both substance abuse treatment needs and mental health treatment needs were served in separate divisions by staff in different locations. By integrating the staff and the services in one team, clients are provided with a co-occurring disorder approach, which treats all of their behavioral health needs in a team setting.
New Mobile Crisis Services
Public interest and calls for behavioral health services increased in 2014. The County’s mobile crisis workers provided 1,163 individuals with important triage services, complete with comprehensive assessments and referrals to ensure that people received the appropriate mental health services for their needs.
Crisis intervention deliberately avoids involvement in long-term matters and focuses on the present situation, which prevents situations from escalating to a point of limited options and unnecessary hospital admission.
This is often the only kind of help or treatment an individual wants or needs. The crisis worker empowers people to become more self-reliant and less dependent upon outside resources. If needed, mobile crisis staff can arrange for psychiatric hospitalization or help the client develop a safety plan for returning home, with follow-up calls the following day.
This year, the department received a $67,000 grant from the California Health Facility Financing Agency to expand the County’s Mobile Crisis Services to offer expanded crisis intervention.
The grant paid for additional vehicles and computers, as well as three staff positions that were reassigned from other programs to pilot the Crisis Resolution Team, an emergency room response team in San Luis Obispo. Staff worked afternoons and evenings, seven days a week, to respond to calls for crisis services in the local hospitals.
By responding to the emergency departments and staying with the client until disposition or a discharge plan has been developed, the Crisis Resolution Team reduced the stress on busy emergency departments and developed better outcomes for individuals in crisis.