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Supervisor Fletcher Advances 80% of Behavioral Health Agenda, in spite of COVID-19


Supervisor Nathan Fletcher’s agenda to build a better behavioral health system in San Diego County remains on track, in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic. Eighty percent of the programs on his ambitious mental health and substance abuse agenda for 2020 hit significant milestones, but because of COVID-19 he wants to ensure the distribution of behavioral health services is more equitable.

Supervisor Fletcher's behavioral health agenda centered on policies, infrastructure & services and funding. In those areas, this year he has already set in motion 12 of 15 projects he wanted to complete this year -- and there are still six months left in 2020. 

“We made progress last year on policies that laid the foundation for us to build better ways for behavioral health treatment. Going into this year we set an aggressive agenda to do more,” said Supervisor Fletcher. “The Coronavirus was a curveball we didn’t expect, but we have stayed the course with our vision by working with staff and the community to fix our broken behavioral health system. Under the circumstances I am encouraged by the progress we have made.” 

At the most recent, July 7 Board of Supervisors meeting, it was announced the contractor for the Ryan J. Mitchell First Responder Behavioral Health Support Program was selected and applications have been received for the $25 Million Behavioral Health Impact Fund the Supervisor successfully got passed in April.

Other behavioral health achievements thus far in 2020 include:

  • On June 23, the Board supported Supervisor Fletcher’s proposal to accelerate implementation and expanding countywide Mobile Crisis Response Team (MCRT) with trained mental health clinicians, not law enforcement, responding to non-violent mental health service needs, including a $10 million to implement countywide; 
  • On June 23, $2 million was allocated because of a motion by Supervisor Fletcher and was subsequently added the revised Capital Improvement Needs Assessment to support the plan and design phase for the Third Avenue Regional Behavioral Health Hub in Hillcrest;
  • On May 19, The Board supported a proposal that Supervisor Fletcher co-authored to use $15 million for Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Securities Act Funding for tele-health capabilities, electronic health record updates, care coordination, outreach and engagement, and workforce recruitment and retention.
  • April 7, Board approved proposal that Supervisor Fletcher co-authored to establish a Behavioral Health Impact Fund with $25 million from a lawsuit settlement between the County and City of San Diego.  Funds will support new capital projects that net additional behavioral health services in the City of San Diego. June 25,  competitive procurement concluded and currently applications are undergoing review for award determination.
  • In March, in Supervisor Fletcher’s role as the co-chair of the County’s COVID-19 Sub-committee, he recommended the County contribute $1.65 million in COVID-19 Emergency Homelessness Funding to operate a 1,400 capacity shelter in the Convention Center, along with dedicating staff for testing, behavioral health and public health services on site. 
  • In March, demolition began on the old dilapidated buildings at the Third Avenue site where the Regional Behavioral Health Hub will be erected.   
  • On March 10, the Board agreed to partner on a Behavioral Health Hub for Youth & Children;
  • On March 10, Supervisor Fletcher’s policy to adopt a syringe services program for San Diego County was modified to establish a board committee to conduct a needs assessment with subject matter experts and return to the board with recommendations. 
  • On March 10, the Board agreed to move ahead with Supervisor Fletcher’s proposal to provide hundreds of thousands in Homeless Assistance Prevention Program (HAPP) funding to the Regional Task Force on the Homeless for a flexible funding subsidy for housing to provide different forms of rental subsidies and other housing supports-- Brilliant Corners was selected to manage the program on June 17.  
  • On February 26, launched the new Accelerated Connections to Treatment program, making substance abuse treatment available at the San Diego County Psychiatric Hospital -- not an industry norm.  
  • On January 28, a historic memorandum of understanding with UC San Diego Health was entered into for mental health and substance abuse services and Person Centered Care Coordination Services at a newly constructed Regional Behavioral Health Hub in Hillcrest estimated to cost $115 million. 

“There is more to do before the initiatives we set in motion in these first six months are operating at full capacity,” Supervisor Fletcher continued. “Plus we have projects on our agenda that we might not be able to get to this year given our involvement in the COVID response and recovery.”

Left on the Supervisor’s agenda for 2020: addressing mental health in County jails, the Medi-Cal admin burden, and we plan to re-engage with the State when they begin work on the Medi-Cal waiver (Cal-AIM), which has been postponed for a year.

“Looking ahead, I am very encouraged by the robust coalition of mental health and substance abuse experts who have joined our movement.” said Supervisor Fletcher. “By working together, we will build a better way for delivering behavioral health treatment.”    

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