March 25, 2023 7:38 am

“Alameda County residents witness each day the inadequacies of our mental wellness technique,” the county Grand Jury concluded.

The 20 men and women who voiced frustrations in a current Zoom meeting represented a fraction of the membership of Alameda County FASMI — Households Advocating for the Seriously Mentally Ill. “Everybody right here has skin in the game,” stated Katy Polony, co-founder of this group whose members have firsthand or secondhand knowledge with severe mental illness.

An Alameda County Civil Grand Jury report issued final year validated their complaints. “Alameda County residents witness each day the inadequacies of our mental wellness technique,” the grand jurors wrote, calling our security net “fragmented and unresponsive” and adding, “entry to the technique need to be streamlined.”

County residents will have a likelihood to query this technique when the Board of Supervisors considers how to devote the about $one hundred million we get every fiscal year thanks to the Mental Overall health Solutions Act (MHSA).

California voters enacted the MHSA in 2004 when they authorized Prop 63. It place a 1% revenue tax surcharge on earnings above $1 million, developing a pool of funds for county governments to enable needy residents with severe mental illness.

Alameda County utilizes MHSA funds to contract with much more than one hundred neighborhood-primarily based organizations that provide prevention and remedy solutions.

But the Grand Jury investigation identified a “questionable allocation of resources” owing to “the unavailability of beneficial and coordinated information.” Their report characterized present funding choices as “shooting in the dark” and advisable that the county do a extensive assessment of mental wellness requirements and generate a strategic strategy to enhance price efficiency.

County officials disagreed. The county “does not method this kind of assessment from a single ‘needs/gaps’ viewpoint,” wellness officials wrote. “It does alternatively evaluate present applications, client solutions, utilization, and demographic information … to ascertain no matter if extra investment, expansion or plan recalibration is necessary.”

Alameda County Behavioral Overall health, the agency which administers the MHSA plan, will release a draft spending strategy in April. The public will be capable to comment ahead of the Board of Supervisors adopts the price range for the subsequent fiscal year.

I identified the Grand Jury report when I went seeking for answers just after attempting and failing to enable a mentally ill adult tap into the security net. That adult thankfully reconciled with family members members who could afford to purchase the individual private insurance coverage.

But no one particular knows how quite a few men and women with severe mental illness are forced to rely on our “fragmented and unresponsive” technique. We need to assess their numbers and requirements and reconsider how we attempt to meet an overwhelming demand with finite sources.

As a survivor of severe mental illness, I know that the patient is typically reluctant to accept remedy.

For county mental wellness officials to reject the Grand Jury’s recommendation suggests that we have a mental wellness technique in denial. It requirements a public intervention.

Former newspaper reporter Tom Abate is a freelance writer who lives in San Leandro. This is adapted from a post on his weblog,

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