California County to Gather Input on Behavioral Health Innovations

Sutter-Yuba Behavioral Health is seeking feedback on a proposed innovation project involving a mobile, field-based engagement team – the team would go to individuals in need of behavioral health care instead of them having to go to the agency.

by Ruby Larson, Appeal-Democrat / April 18, 2019

(TNS) — California's Sutter-Yuba Behavioral Health will host four public meetings regarding a proposed behavioral health innovation project.

The Mental Health Services Act – also known as Proposition 63 – was passed by California voters in 2004 to expand mental health services for children and adults, according to a press release. The act is funded by a 1 percent tax surcharge on personal income of more than $1 million per year and provides money to counties to fund mental health programs.

“The goal is to transform the public mental health systems in ways that make it easier to access behavioral health care services, increases information available to the community about behavioral health conditions and how to access services and decreases the stigma of accessing behavioral health care,” said Sarah Eberhardt-Rios, Health and Human Services branch director for acute psychiatric and forensic services.

Funding from the act is organized into five categories – community services and supports, prevention and early intervention, innovation, and workforce education and training, and capital facilities.

Eberhardt-Rios said Sutter-Yuba Behavioral Health is seeking feedback on a proposed innovation project involving a mobile, field-based engagement team – the team would go to individuals in need of behavioral health care instead of them having to go to the agency.

The people the mobile team would meet with would be those who have been recently hospitalized or had an emergency psychiatric service, but are having a difficult time following up, she said.

“This team would be focused on folks that have trouble connecting with outpatient care,” Eberhardt-Rios said.

She said innovation projects must meet at least one of three conditions: introduce a new mental health practice or approach; make a change to an existing mental health practice or approach (such as adaptation for a new setting or community); or apply to the mental health system a promising community-driven practice or approach that has been successful in a non-mental health context or setting.

The proposed project also includes a training component that would be available to community members.

This portion would be funded under the prevention and early intervention funding of the Mental Health Services Act – and would be offered at no cost to the community, Eberhardt-Rios said.

“The training would focus on recognizing and responding effectively to early signs of mental illness and how to access services,” she said.

The trainings would be open to people in Sutter and Yuba counties, employers, law enforcement, college students, etc.

“Really anyone who is interested in attending a training could do so,” Eberhardt-Rios said.

She said, based on current projections, they expect that $4.8 million in innovation funding will be available for the proposed project over a five-year period (through June 2024).

“Funding is based on availability and fluctuations in tax payments can impact projects and available funding,” Eberhardt-Rios said.

The meetings that Sutter-Yuba Behavioral Health will host will include a brief overview of the Mental Health Services Act, what innovation funding is, what it can be used for and what it can’t, a description of the proposed innovation project, time to discuss and have attendees give their opinions on the proposal, what the next steps are for the plan and the required approval processes.

“We believe that hearing from the community about behavioral health care, what’s needed, where we do well and what we need to improve is one of the most important things we can do,” Eberhardt-Rios said. “One of the best ways for us to do that is to hold community meetings the community members can attend and share with us their ideas and thoughts.”

Under the Mental Health Services Act, Sutter-Yuba Behavioral Health is required to get community feedback through meetings for programs funded by the act.

Currently, the project is in the development phase but, based on feedback, is planned to be finalized and posted online for review in May, Eberhardt-Rios said.

Following the meetings and the finalization of the project proposal, it will be posted online for 30 days and the public can view it and further comment on it, she said.

If no substantive changes are made to the proposal, it will be reviewed by the Board of Supervisors and if approved, Sutter-Yuba Behavioral Health will present it to the state’s Mental Health Oversight and Accountability Commission.

Eberhardt-Rios said not all projects have to be taken to the commission, all innovation projects are required to be reviewed by it before the county can implement them.

For more information, contact Peter Sullivan, Mental Health Services Act coordinator for Sutter-Yuba Behavioral Health, at 822-7327, ext. 216, or

©2019 the Appeal-Democrat (Marysville, Calif.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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