County Combines Addiction Treatment, Mental Health Departments

Given that clientele often overlaps, Santa Clara County will integrate its departments of Drug and Alcohol Services and Mental Health.

The new agency will be called the Department of Behavioral Health Services, according to a report going before the county Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.

The merger stems partly from a 2011 statewide prison reform law that forced counties to deal with higher populations of mentally ill inmates by pushing state criminals under purview of local jails and probation officers. Plus, more public agencies across the country are starting to combine funding for mental health and drug treatment since the services and patients often overlap.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has long supported integrating funding for mental health and addiction treatments.

“Research shows integrated treatment improves recovery,” the organization states.

At least 12 million Americans have co-occurring mental and addictive disorders, according to federal studies cited by NAMI. Treating those together is more effective than dividing a patient’s treatment between two departments.

More from the Santa Clara Count Board of Supervisors agenda for January 28, 2014:

• The South County Airport may get re-christened to the San Martin Airport. “South County” is too generic, county staff says, while “San Martin” reflects the site’s location in the unincorporated San Martin are of Santa Clara County. Supervisors will facilitate a public hearing on the matter, so the public has a chance to weigh in.

• Finally, the county’s planning to put all Fair Political Practices Commission reports online through the Registrar of Voters website. Not all FPPC files end up online, which means looking them up involves a trip to the registrar’s office. And the ones that are online aren’t that easy to find. Supervisor Cindy Chavez directed the staff to come up with a timeline to bring campaign finance reporting into the 21st Century.

• The county’s part of an inter-regional data-sharing network, paid for by federal grant money to “support law enforcement investigations against terrorism,” the oft-cited reason for public agencies to upgrade to more sophisticated communications systems.

• The Department of Children’s and Family Services is scurrying to fill vacancies for social workers after an audit came out last fall that documented the agency’s repeated failure to answer calls to its child abuse hotline, among other problems.

• Judge Thomas Cain, who oversaw “some of Silicon Valley’s most colorful estate cases,” died of cancer earlier this month, according to the Mercury News. Supervisor Mike Wasserman wants to take a moment to recognize the man’s life work.

• The California State University system wants to team up with county mental health to train its campus law enforcement to recognize and deal with people who are mentally ill. Training videos will teach officers how to calm down a person with mental illness and refer them to appropriate services.

• The Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County will get $400,000 in taxpayer money to pay for services to help re-integrate inmates into the community. The money will pay for two faith-based re-integration centers, as they’re called, to help the homeless and formerly incarcerated.

Violence prevention through social media marketing will cost the county $45,000.

• The county wants to spend $133,000 to form a response team to help child prostitutes escape cycles of abuse and find treatment.

• A few months after reinforcing the county’s civil detainer policy to refuse turning in undocumented immigrants if they end up in jail, supervisors are poised to approve a study to examine the effect of the policy. The study will look at the financial costs of the existing policy, recidivism stats and trends relating to domestic violence, jail capacity, split sentencing and other relevant factors.

WHAT: Board of Supervisors meets
WHEN: 9am Tuesday
WHERE: County Government Center, 70 W. Hedding St., San Jose
INFO: Lynn Regadanz, [email protected]

Jennifer Wadsworth is the former news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.

One Comment

  1. > The South County Airport may get re-christened to the San Martin Airport. “South County” is too generic, county staff says, while “San Martin” reflects the site’s location in the unincorporated San Martin …

    Good grief!

    An attack of common sense. What’s gotten into those people?

    Let’s see, now.  If a person in Nepal wants to fly to San Jose, does it occur to them to buy a ticket to Norman Mineta Airport?

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