Behavioral-health and law-enforcement personnel in Santa Barbara County collaborate to divert mentally unwell individuals from jail and the prison justice system as a complete, however it hasn’t at all times been that approach.
“What is going on now could be that traditionally unprecedented ranges are being required of us to collaborate with the justice system,” Behavioral Wellness Director Toni Navarro mentioned. “Over the last few a long time, these two in funding and in observe ought to by no means meet.”
There have been prohibitions in Psychological Well being Providers Act funding and different funding that didn’t enable the Behavioral Wellness division to serve individuals experiencing extreme and chronic psychological sickness, Navarro mentioned.
About 5 years in the past, there was a change within the MHSA laws that allowed Behavioral Wellness to serve individuals who have been justice-involved, Navarro informed Noozhawk.
“That gave us new streams of cash and permits us that funding to particularly concentrate on this inhabitants now. And we weren’t ready to try this earlier than,” she mentioned.
“We might use the instruments obtainable to us, and oftentimes for us that may be the jail,” mentioned Cherylynn Lee, behavioral sciences unit supervisor for the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Workplace. “We acknowledge that by diverting individuals by way of remedy, we’re stopping future engagements with legislation enforcement. We acknowledge that, particularly with zero bail, we are able to’t arrest our approach out of this downside.”
The county’s prison justice departments — together with the Sheriff’s Workplace, the District Legal professional’s Workplace, Public Defender and Probation) have been engaged on system enhancements for a number of years, together with diverting individuals with psychological well being points from jail and connecting them to remedy.
The Santa Barbara County Division of Behavioral Wellness headquarters, Psychiatric Well being Facility and Disaster Stabilization Unit are positioned a couple of blocks from the County Principal Jail. (Giana Magnoli / Noozhawk photograph)
Santa Barbara County has co-response groups, which pair Behavioral Wellness clinicians with specifically skilled sheriff’s deputies to reply to 9-1-1 calls involving somebody in a psychological well being disaster, and disaster intervention coaching for legislation enforcement officers.
It has an eight-hour CIT course that each legislation enforcement officer has to take, and a 40-hour voluntary CIT academy.
Lee, who has a doctorate in psychology, began constructing the CIT curriculum as a volunteer in 2015, and started instructing it in 2016. To date, the Sheriff’s Workplace has held 5 40-hour CIT academy courses with about 20 individuals in every.
“Dr. Lee has put collectively a extremely sturdy CIT coaching for legislation enforcement, actually increasing the attain of the training and consciousness about psychological well being disaster and symptomology in (the legislation enforcement) area,” Navarro mentioned. “There’s type of a wider base of data that she’s offering to legislation enforcement,”
The Sheriff’s Workplace has additionally taught de-escalation strategies at neighborhood organizations akin to CALM Santa Barbara, PATH, and the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission, Lee mentioned, including that many native colleges have requested the groups to come back in and do behavioral threat evaluation coaching there, Lee mentioned.
The Division of Behavioral Wellness additionally coordinates with metropolis legislation enforcement businesses, such because the Santa Barbara and the Lompoc police departments.
“For them realizing easy methods to entry our after-hours disaster line for sources or session is a big assist,” Navarro mentioned. “Some individuals don’t essentially want a disaster staff or psychological well being intervention, however they want a cellphone quantity with sources that we are able to hand off to them. That stage of collaboration and coordination is one thing that we’re dedicated to rising in our system.”
The county additionally has sobering facilities, so police can take people who find themselves below the affect — and individuals who may need mild-to-moderate psychological well being points — to the middle to stabilize as a substitute of being held in jail, mentioned John Doyel, assistant director of the Division of Behavioral Wellness.
Behavioral Wellness has a transportation system that may take somebody from jail to a sobering middle, one thing that Doyel referred to as “revolutionary.”
If mentally unwell persons are arrested and being held in jail, the sheriff’s contractor WellPath conducts assessments and presents remedy inside the facility.
Anybody being seen in WellPath’s program can refer themselves to psychological well being providers at no prices, or family members or employees can refer somebody to the providers as properly, mentioned Carin Kottraba, WellPath vp of psychological well being providers.
In response to the Public Defender’s Neighborhood Defender Division, greater than 75% of shoppers with psychological well being wants have been related with providers final 12 months, and 94% of these shoppers appeared in courtroom for his or her subsequent scheduled date.
The county has six jail discharge planners to assist individuals in custody re-enter society with a plan and hyperlinks to sources they could want.
“We had two care coordinators, and inside two weeks they’d calls from everybody: the emergency departments, remedy facilities, the jail,” Doyel mentioned. Of including extra positions, he mentioned, “I feel that’s actually the holy grail.”
— Jade Martinez-Pogue is a Noozhawk contributing author.