The San Diego County Board of Supervisors Tuesday approved a mid-year update on mental health programs after hearing from county officials and community leaders.
Voting 3-0, with Supervisors Dianne Jacob and Ron Roberts absent, the panel approved a $400,000 payment to the California Mental Health Services Authority for continue participation in state programs, along with $100,000 of MHSA funding for new short-term mental health practices.
Regional efforts to help those living with mental illness include “live well centers”; added psychiatric emergency-response teams, which work with law enforcement; additional permanent housing and shelter beds; and suicide-prevention campaigns such as Up2SD, county Behavioral Health Services Director Alfredo Aguirre told the board.
“People are getting better, and cities and communities are safer,” Aguirre said.
Despite those assertions of success in addressing mental health issues in the county, Board Chairwoman Kristin Gaspar expressed concern about program spending outpacing revenue in the upcoming fiscal year.
“Reserves are the only buffer we have,” she said, adding that local government should focus on prevention, as opposed to spending money in a reactionary way.
Aguirre said his department was looking into how to deliver services in the most cost-effective manner and reduce certain programs if they are not delivering.
Supervisor Bill Horn agreed with Gaspar, but said the county has come a long way since 1995, when it had to reduce the mental health budget, along with other important programs.
To avoid future large cuts, the county later moved mental health into a permanent budget category, Horn noted, adding that the board should work to ensure that programs are protected in the future.
Financial concerns aside, county mental health programs are “beginning to make a difference, one life at a time,” Supervisor Greg Cox said.
–City News Service
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