That announcement was made at a recent press conference by County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, District 2 Councilmember Dr. Jen Campbell, County Supervisors chairman Greg Cox, and Dr. Luke Bergman, County Behavioral Health Services director.
“We are taking bold action and changing how we operate to ensure better outcomes for the patients who visit our psychiatric hospital,” said Fletcher. “By taking the unprecedented step of co-locating mental health and substance abuse treatment, we are better equipped to provide vital services to a hard-to-reach group of people, many of whom are experiencing chronic homelessness. This is a better way to connect people to the treatment they need.”
Added Fletcher, “By expanding the network of resources available to people experiencing homelessness and in need of behavioral health services, with the Accelerated Connections to Treatment program, the County is taking active measures to combat the root causes of our region’s homelessness crisis.”
"With the County stepping up to invest in programs such as ACTT, it not only has positive impacts in the Midway District but also with those seeking help in all our communities,” said Campbell.
“Difficult problems require creative solutions, and this is a program that offers a new way of helping this population of homeless individuals,” said Cox. “This is a great start and we will continue to find ways to enhance the system of care for those suffering from substance use disorders.”
San Diego Psychiatric Hospital at 3853 Rosecrans St. provides walk-in emergency mental health services for adults and older adults who are experiencing a mental health emergency or crisis. The hospital’s Psychiatric Emergency Response Team provides emergency assessment and referral for individuals with mental illness who come to the attention of law enforcement through phone calls from community members, or in-field law enforcement requests for emergency assistance.
PERT pairs licensed mental health clinicians with uniformed law enforcement officers/deputies, evaluating the situation, assessing the individual's mental health condition and needs, and, if appropriate, transporting individuals to a hospital or other treatment center, or referring them to a community-based resource or treatment facility.
About 500 individuals each month are frequently brought to the County Hospital on Rosecrans without being admitted. Many of these individuals’ symptoms are mistaken by law enforcement or other entities as psychotic, when in fact certain drugs, including methamphetamine, have side effects that mimic psychosis. Due to the fact that they do not have a serious mental illness, but instead are struggling with a substance use disorder and are intoxicated, they are given a referral for a local facility, often without any follow-up.
The ACTT program will use a hands-on approach by linking patients directly to the providers and treatments they need using a four-step process, which is expected to cut down on recidivism and to improve public health outcomes by helping individuals gain a wider support system in their battle against addiction and substance abuse.
To implement the ACTT program, the National Alliance on Mental Illness is partnering with the County to work with patients who volunteer to participate.
“This new model of providing services will advance care integration across other emergency and crisis care systems in our community,” said Cathryn Nacario, CEO of NAMI San Diego. “This linking of services is critical, because too often we see a fragmented health delivery system that prevents doctors and care-givers from providing treatment efficiently, and patients from receiving the most appropriate care throughout their experience.”