Orange County to Audit $219 Million in Mental Health Spending

Santa Ana, Calif. (March 15, 2018) – Orange County will audit more than $219 million in mental health spending in an effort to improve programs and better coordinate services with the county’s homeless response.    

On Tuesday, the Orange County Board of Supervisors approved a performance audit to identify and review all county mental health programs funded through the Mental Health Services Act. In approving the audit, the County intends to streamline hundreds of mental health programs that serve residents, including the estimated 52,500 Orange County teenagers living with a mental health condition.

“The current system isn’t working,” said Supervisor Andrew Do, Chairman of the Board of Supervisors. “It’s overwhelming to tell a person or family dealing with a mental health issue to navigate a system of 210 county programs. Valuable mental health services are buried in bureaucracy.”

“We need to make it easier for families to access the right mental health services when they need it,” he said.

County leaders see improved mental health services as an integral part of the county’s long-term homeless response. Approximately 30% of people experiencing chronic homelessness have a serious mental illness, according to the Office of National Drug Control Policy. Last month, the county finalized the purchase of 44,556-square-foot facility that will provide mental health crisis stabilization, drug abuse treatment, and long-term residential psychiatric care.

“Orange County offers top-notch services to the community, but they aren’t being utilized to their full potential,” added Chairman Do, who proposed the mental health audit.

The county audit will include: 

  • Stakeholder Interviews: Discussions with stakeholders, focused on populations with the most severe needs, such as homeless individual with serious mental illness.
  • Review of Mental Health Services Act Methodology:  Dialogue with fiscal and program staff, a review of budgetary documents, and an analysis of performance data will be used to evaluate the current methodology determining how the county spends MHSA funds.
  • County Peer Comparison: Orange County’s performance will be compared with other counties of comparable size.

Audit findings, including an assessment of current programs and recommendations, are expected to be released in the fall.