Behavior health affects most everyone in some way or another whether a friend, family member or co-worker. If we aren’t committed to address mental health issues and implement solutions we will begin to see an increase in teen and young adult suicides, students drop out of school, crime increase, more veterans living on the streets suffering with PTS along with business communities and neighborhoods negatively impacted by an increase in the homeless population. Mental health problems if not addressed can become a public safety issue which will have a direct effect on our communities. There is also a need to have specialized behavior health services available for young children and teens.
I believe California has begun to respond to the mental health issue, but we can do much better. On a state level Governor Brown increased funding for mental health and homelessness in the 2018/19 budget. We need better accountability of the Prop 63 MHSA funds that counties can count on to meet needed additional services. The combined voice of local health care professionals and statewide coalition members will be an integral part to move us toward an action plan to implement the change we want to see in our communities.
Another aspect to consider is the improved communication and collaboration of law enforcement and the role of Behavioral Health personnel when responding to a 911 call of an emotionally distressed person in crisis.
Regarding substance use we need to do a lot better than we have been doing. San Francisco’s response to the opioid/heroin problem is to open up safe injection sites and I think this is a BIG mistake. That solution does not address the problem, instead enables the continued behavior. I do not support this model. I support rehab centers and functional facilities that address the need for change and that offer counseling and tools to help people change their old habits and patterns and receive coach like support to encourage them to hope again, begin again and instill vision for their future. Transitional housing and assistance could be offered to those willing to commit to go through the program with a goal to find employment and eventually support themselves.
The Gloucester Police Department created a policing program aimed at getting addicts the help they need instead of putting them in handcuffs. It sounds like a good program. We have many young teens who are addicted and could potentially end up in jail, and their families don’t know how to help them. Hiring additional experienced staff who understand addictions and are equipped to offer the needed help and encouragement in their process of wanting to acknowledge their need to get help. Some may not want help, others may be willing. I recognize the answer to homelessness, substance use and mental health is not a one size fits all solution but recognizing we need to do more is our first step toward finding solutions, changing lives and growing healthy communities.
One message at a time. Through education and community awareness, involvement, interest and support.
Yes, I am willing to work towards bringing real solutions to implement prevention, intervention, treatment and recovery support.
Thank you for reaching out to me regarding this important issue. I’m not responding because it’s another form to fill out as a candidate, but I’m responding because I too am very concerned about the issues of mental health, substance use and homelessness.
Over the past 8-10 years I have been personally involved in helping young adults and their families find placement in both rehab and mental health facilities. As a nonprofit we have extended support to families through counseling, visiting their loved ones in jail and even paying impounding fees for their car during a 5150 so they wouldn’t be homeless on the streets.
For some time now, I’ve spoken about establishing a rehab/training facility with transitional housing in our area to help those with substance abuse problems receive treatment, job training and to offer support to their families as they walk through these difficult times. I acknowledge there is no easy solution and I agree a collective coalition of organizations coming together will be able to make a greater impact in local communities. Statewide developing and then implementing a proven model that could be applied yet modified to work in our cities and communities may also be a component of the solution. Increased access to both inpatient and outpatient centers and less incarceration will make a difference in the outcome. Facilities will need to be acquired to offer transitional housing and it will be important to continue with follow up care after they transition out of the program. It would also be beneficial to reach out to local businesses who may be willing to offer employment to those working through a program. Some may require a long-term facility, helping with the community garden or in some responsible position so they can gain confidence with focus to move forward on their own. Each facility will be different offering the specific care needed for the client. Bottom line we need facilities, transitional housing, trained staff and mental health professionals who are equipped to help in the process.
PO BOX 6181
Carmel, CA. 93921