By Alexandra Yoon-Hendricks, The Sacramento Bee, August 12, 2019
Sacramento County has yet to spend $126.1 million in allocated state money meant to invest in mental health services, even as the region wrestles with a growing crisis in hospital emergency rooms, in police calls and on city streets.
In light of the significant cache amassed through the state’s Mental Health Services Act, Sacramento County Board of Supervisors approved a proposal last week to spend more money, more quickly. Under the plan, the county will expand existing programs helping children and adults with mental health issues, and fund community organizations focused on prevention and early intervention services.
Local officials and advocates say the situation has become untenable: Sacramento Police Department has receive more mental health-related calls for service each year, now up to nearly 11,000. Thousands overwhelm emergency rooms across the county because of a lack psychiatric care. At least 1 in 5 of the more than 5,000 homeless people living in Sacramento County reported having a severe mental health condition such as severe depression or schizophrenia.