Public hearing to be held on draft plan for using Prop. 63 mental health funds in Contra Costa
For release November 7, 2005
After nine months of extensive community effort and input, Contra Costa Health Services' Mental Health Division released Monday a draft 3-year plan outlining priorities for using new money from Prop. 63, also known as the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA).
The plan focuses on the needs of unserved and underserved youth and adults with serious mental illness who are homeless, seriously disabled older adults over 60 who don't have adequate care, and children with serious emotional disorders and their families.
The Contra Costa Mental Health Commission will hold a public hearing on the Draft Community Services and Supports plan 2 - 5 p.m. Wednesday, December 7 in the Board of Supervisors Chamber, 651 Pine Street, Martinez. After public comment, the county will submit the plan to the state. The state approval process takes three months.
The MHSA was passed by California voters in November 2004 and levies an additional 1% tax on individuals with taxable annual income of more than $1 million. Designed to transform the ailing public mental health system, the MHSA includes several components of strategies and services that are being rolled out over several years by the State Department of Mental Health.
Contra Costa expects to receive $7.1 million for the first year of its plan, which could be implemented as soon as April, said Kimberly Mayer, Contra Costa's MHSA Project Manager.
"This is the first infusion of new funds into the public mental health system. Our plan is part of a long transformation process that will greatly improve mental health care for the unserved and underserved in Contra Costa," Mayer said.
The initial funding, which equals about 6% of Mental Health's annual budget, is less than originally anticipated so programs will be started in specific areas and then later expanded countywide as more money is available, she said. Contra Costa is expected to receive more funding for other components of the MHSA.
The county was required to seek public input to qualify for funding. Contra Costa Mental Health went well beyond the mandate to determine priorities and strategies, working with more than 1,100 stakeholders, including mental health consumers, their family members, county staff, mental health advocates, social service providers, educators and law enforcement. The process revealed that the stakeholders' number one priority is supportive housing for mental health consumers, who need a full range of options from emergency and transitional to long-term housing, Mayer said.
"Our focus is on recovery, and often people can't effectively make the best use of their treatment until they get housing. Providing consumers with appropriate housing will help them begin their recovery process," she said.
Because 47% of the county's homeless are in West County, efforts initially will be focused there for adults and transition age youth (16-25), she said. The plan calls for additional beds in a residential treatment facility and more long-term housing. Mental Health will work with the county's Homeless Program to address housing needs. New outreach teams comprised of county staff and mental health workers also will be created to provide 24-hour service in the area.
Additional priorities include addressing the needs of underserved children with emotional disorders who are failing in school and providing support for their families. New children's services will start in Far East County. More services also are being created for adults over 60 who have both mental illness and other serious medical problems.
The 350-page plan and its executive summary is available on the Contra Costa Health Services website: cchealth.org and also will be available in Contra Costa County public libraries. A copy of the plan also is at Contra Costa Mental Health Administration, 1340 Arnold Drive, Suite 200, Martinez.
Written comments may be submitted before December 7 by mail to Contra Costa Mental Health Commission, 1340 Arnold Drive, Suite 200, Martinez, CA 94553, by email to email@example.com or by fax to 925-957-5156. For a copy of the plan, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 925-957-5151. For questions about the plan, contact Kimberly Mayer, MHSA Project Manager, at 925-957-5132; or by email at email@example.com
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