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Categories: depression

Sacramento County considers mental health crisis response system

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The Sacramento County Board of Supervisors' discussion on possibly creating a mental health crisis response team was an hourslong meeting, with plenty of public comment from residents offering their opinion on the matter.

"We're trying to both have that sense of urgency to do what we believe is the right thing to do and provide better service, but at the same time, ensure that we're very thoughtful of what structure of that system will look like," Phil Serna, first district supervisor at Sacramento County, said.

The program would include a special team to handle mental health crises 24/7 — a job that is currently handled by police. The plan is welcomed by community advocates, mental health professionals and some county leaders.

"We believe that mental health professionals should be the ones handling mental health crises. For a very long time, law enforcement has been criminalizing mental health issues," Serna said.

Dr. Corrine McIntosh Sako is a licensed clinical psychologist. She said if anybody is having a "psychotic or manic episode," they're going to be very talkative and have a lot of energy.

She also added that a calmer approach to people having mental health crises would help de-escalate aggressive or violent behavior.

"They're not going to be in touch with reality. And so, they do need a softer, gentler approach," Sako said.

The board of supervisors is still looking into what the responsibility shift would look like within the county.

They have also yet to determine if a separate call center will be needed, and if a different number from 911 will have to be assigned, and how much money this specialized response team will cost.

The board will be meeting again in June when they hope they'll have a better idea of what the budget for this program will be. If that discussion goes well, a finalized budget would be ready by September.


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