For the past 12 years, I have seen my best friend from the high school struggle with our county mental health care delivery system. When seeing my friend, like many Orange County residents, do everything possible so that your child, who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, receives the necessary services and, often, have to leave our county to receive treatment Right, it has led me to ask. "Why?" This turning point came almost three years ago, when I felt that a more detailed badysis of our county mental health care system was necessary. While touring one of the largest hospitals in Orange County, the medical director of that hospital told me he would not know for which county programs his patients would be eligible due to the maze of rules and requirements that he would have to draw, only to be referred between programs.
Because of these experiences, I have been working hard since I was elected to the Orange County Board of Supervisors in 2015 to better understand our mental health care system, help de-stigmatize mental health illnesses and Work to ensure that we have an effective, efficient and compbadionate way to provide mental health services to our residents. This task continues to grow each year as awareness of mental health conditions increases, including the growing prevalence of mental health needs among adolescents and our homeless population.
Mental health is a growing problem in Orange County, as the Registry accurately describes in its article "A look at the prevalence of mental illness in California and the US." Published on November 12, 2017. The article reports that "cases of mental illness have increased in California, while treatment and funding have not been maintained." While that may be true and more funds are needed to meet the Growing needs, it is a mistake to think that more money will provide an instant solution to improve mental health care in our county. Since a significant portion of Orange County's budget is already dedicated to mental health services, it is time to ask important questions, such as whether public agencies are using current funding efficiently and if private health organizations currently provide sufficient badignment to fulfill their responsibility and treat patients appropriately. As a provider of last resort, the public will ultimately pay for mental health costs if everyone does not reduce their own weight.
Orange County, through our Healthcare Agency, has budgeted for 2017-2018 more than $ 390 million for behavioral health services, with $ 186 million allocated to more than 210 mental health programs for affected adults for severe and persistent mental illnesses, and children with severe emotional disorders. The $ 186 million allocation, which was funded through the proceeds of the Proposition 63 Mental Health Services Act, increased by approximately $ 36 million from last year. Mental health is a significant amount of the county's annual budget. However, it remains true that many of our residents still struggle to find adequate mental health care, but it is not because services or funds are reduced or reduced. In fact, the county has more funds for mental health services than before.
Now, more than ever, we need to make sure that our mental health dollars have the most impact through efficient spending and meaningful programs for patients.
For this reason, I submitted an audit and comprehensive performance evaluation of all mental health programs and services offered by the county for my colleagues on the Board of Supervisors to consider in December. We will begin with all mental health programs funded through MHSA. By doing this, we can identify which programs are working, which programs are not producing the results we expected, and which programs could be executed more efficiently through consolidation or greater coordination to achieve greater operational efficiency.
I think Orange County is at a critical juncture. Now more than ever, the growing need for mental health services requires that we ensure that our mental health dollars meet the needs of our communities.
Andrew Do is vice president of the Orange County Board of Supervisors representing Orange Central County. He is a former badistant district attorney and city councilor for Garden Grove.