SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY, Calif. – The County of San Luis Obispo Health Agency and Transitions-Mental Health Association on Thursday released a jointly commissioned report examining the current state of adult behavioral health care across the county.
The county health agencies jointly commissioned Capstone Solutions Consulting Group, a social sector consulting firm, to conduct the evaluation and provide recommendations.
"This report is an important first step in making our behavioral health programs stronger,” said County of San Luis Obispo Supervisor Bruce Gibson. “It gives us a clearer picture of how we're doing over the entire spectrum of crucial services our residents need."
The report, Strengthening the System of Adult Behavioral Healthcare in San Luis Obispo County, is intended to serve as a roadmap for the County of San Luis Obispo's Behavioral Health Department as it develops a five-year strategic plan. The full 53-page report can be read here and an executive summary can be read here.
“This analysis offers a rich understanding of the behavioral health continuum of care within the County, illuminating strengths, weaknesses, and areas that our team can now concentrate its actions,” said Health Agency Director Nick Drews. “The report also points out the challenges we have been facing with significant workforce shortages that have been exacerbated the COVID-19 pandemic. We are focused on using the findings in this report as a catalyst for change and this analysis will serve as vital input as we act on the behavioral health needs of our community.”
The report highlighted some current strengths of the system in the following areas:
- Certain clinical programs, including full-service partnerships, are highly successful in meeting the full range of needs of highly vulnerable mental health clients
- Forensic mental health programs, including integrated field response teams and post-incarceration release services, are effective and show exceptional collaboration between law enforcement and mental health professionals
- Peer and family support services are exceptional both for the knowledge and dedication of staff and for their comprehensive support for individuals attempting to enter and navigate the mental health system
The report then noted limitations within the current mental health systems in San Luis Obispo County
- The lack of residential treatment programs such as Crisis Residential Services and Enriched Residential Programs
- No partial hospitalization for substance use disorders
- Insufficient acute inpatient care for clients in mental health crises
- Limited housing options, including additional permanent supportive housing, adult residential facilities (e.g., board and care homes), and sober living programs
“We hope the community responds to this overview with meaningful and beneficial solutions,” said Jill Bolster-White, Executive Director of Transitions-Mental Health Association. “Ultimately, it takes the entire system, including hospital and private providers, to make this work.”
Capstone Solutions Consulting also listed recommendations in both the near-term and long-term solutions.
Near-term recommendations included:
- Redesign the Crisis Stabilization Unit as an Urgent Care Center
- Capitalize on new Peer Certification by adding new job classifications
- Expand integrated physical and mental health care through formal and informal partnerships with local health providers
Long-term recommendations included:
- Invest in a crisis residential treatment program
- Expand substance use services by developing a partial hospitalization program in existing outpatient programs
- Add an additional Psychiatric Health Facility (PHF) that should accept private insurance as well as Medi-Cal