Orange County is improving mental health services and expanding training for how law enforcement should handle psychiatric emergencies.
“Patients are facing barriers when they try to access mental health services,” said Supervisor Andrew Do, who has made improving the county’s mental health care one of his top priorities on the Board of Supervisors.
Last Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors approved a $7.7 million dollar contract with Mind OC to promote extensive interagency collaboration across multiple sectors to restructure the way mental health care is provided to its residents. In this new approach, the county will work with state and local agencies, public and private health plans, and philanthropic and non-profit organizations to connect these sectors and improve the quality and access to health services.
The Board also accepted two Mental Health Awareness Training state grants for local corrections staff, including Juvenile and Adult Corrections Officers, Probation Officers, as well as local police and sheriff staff. “Serving as the nation’s first responders, local law enforcement officers need to receive the proper training on how to safely interact with people experiencing a mental health or addiction crisis,” said Supervisor Do. “We need to equip our law enforcement to properly recognize mental health challenges among their peers and in their communities.”
This new approach comes just a week before the county’s groundbreaking celebration for the first-ever Be Well OC Campus on October 16, which will be the first visible sign of a system of change for mental health and wellness in the county. “There’s no doubt that our state’s lack of mental health treatment facilities has exacerbated our state’s homeless crisis,” said Supervisor Do. “This mental health facility is another important component in our effort to address homelessness.”
This new facility will support all county patients and families struggling with mental illnesses by getting them the care they need. There are plans for two additional Be Well OC campuses in other parts of the county that may vary in services based on the surrounding local community needs.
“For too long, Orange County has lacked the resources to treat mental health problems, psychiatric emergencies, and substance abuse disorders,” said Supervisor Do. “In order to develop optimal behavioral health in Orange County, we need to increase the quality of mental health services across all sectors. This new approach is a step in the right direction.”