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Proposed County Budget Includes $4 Million-Plus For Mental Health Crisis Response And Outreach

L.A. County's CEO presents the proposed 2022-23 county budget on Tuesday, April 19. On the left is a pie chart that details spending for various departments. On the right are two masked people sitting behind a desk. The U.S. and California flags are behind them, along with the LA County insignia hanging on the wall.
L.A. County CEO presents the proposed 2022-23 county budget on Tuesday, April 19.
(Screenshot from YouTube)
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L.A. County’s recommended budget for 2022-23 includes large expenditures for the mental health care system, including nearly $3 billion for the Department of Mental Health alone.

The proposed budget was presented at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting. County officials pointed out this is the first step in the months-long process for a budget that also includes “expansion of crisis intervention services” using Mental Health Services Act funds.

County CEO Fesia Davenport’s plan proposes using $4.3 million of those federal funds to “accommodate demand for the Department of Mental Health’s outreach, engagement, and crisis response,” among other efforts. That investment would provide for about 24 additional positions.

In 2020, the county’s Psychiatric Mobile Response teams went out on more than 20,000 calls, with roughly 7,000 of those leading to a patient being placed in a hospital.

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The teams are an alternative to the Mental Evaluation Teams (MET) at the Sheriff’s Department, which pair up a specially-trained deputy and a DMH clinician.

But the mobile response department doesn’t have the resources to handle every call that comes in. Demand is so high that response times can be several hours, or even an entire day, depending on staffing.

“We need safety and innovations like alternative crisis response to keep our neighborhoods safe and healthy over the long-term,” Davenport said.

Last year, the County Board of Supervisors voted to expand the use of unarmed clinicians for mental health crises.

What questions do you have about mental health in SoCal?
One of my goals on the mental health beat is to make the seemingly intractable mental health care system more navigable.