Psychologist and Marriage and Family Therapist
July 1, 2021
Dr. McIntosh Sako has been working on advocating for AB988 and developing a mental health crisis response alternative to 911 for the greater Sacramento area. This is her most recent update on this. She has written two other articles on the subject:
Can’t Get Well in A Cell No Matter How New The Building Is
De-Criminalizing Mental Illness: Providing 911 Alternatives to Individuals Experiencing A Mental Health Crisis
Sacramento County Board of Supervisors Approve $12million Budget for a 24/7 Mental Health Crisis Response Program that Does NOT Involve Law Enforcement
The Sacramento County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously on June 10 to approve the $6.5 billion recommended budget for Fiscal Year 2021-22, which includes $12 million to fund a non-law enforcement alternative emergency response to people experiencing mental health crises. This is something that has been simmering since Supervisor Kennedy initially directed County staff to propose alternatives to law enforcement responses to quality of life issues that can be better addressed by mental health professionals during last September’s budget hearings.
Steps the County says they’ve taken for the development of the “Wellness Crisis Response and Cell Center (formerly known as Alternative to 911) since their last presentation to the Supervisors back in March include:
- Figuring out how to leverage state & federal funds
- Review of models, best practices, and discussion with other counties
- Conducting ongoing meetings with Sacramento County Law Enforcement partners to determine strategies for coordination; however, they have yet to consult with emergency medical and fire services
And they held a “community stakeholder session” the day before the budget hearing in order to check the community engagement box.
The Crisis Response Program will have 3 main components:
- A 24/7 Crisis Call Center staffed by mental health counselors, funded either by funds generated by AB 988 (the Miles Hall Lifeline Act) if passed in the State or by the County if AB 988 does not get approved, and in effect by July 2022
- A Mobile Field Response unit comprising a two-member team – a mental health counselor and a peer support specialist, to roll out by July 2022. There will be 8 teams total and 5 fleet vehicles will be included. County is hoping to use American Rescue Plan Act funding for this component of the program, which will be available for 5 years and includes up to 85% reimbursement
- Mental Health Urgent Care Clinic, operated by Turning Point Community Programs and currently has limited hours, will be expanded to operate 24/7 by January 2022. Funding for this part will come from existing Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) Innovation funds in addition to Medi-Cal billing for Medi-Cal eligible folks served.
The Response Program formerly known as Alternatives to 911 will serve all areas of the county, including the 7 incorporated cities and the unincorporated areas. This program will not service residents in the city of Sacramento since they are developing their own model through the Department of Community Response.
With the approved budget, the County will now start working on expanding the operating hours of the Mental Health Urgent Care Clinic at 2130 Stockton Blvd, Building 300 (operated through Sacramento County by Turning Point) to have 24/7 service starting January 2022. They will also work with partners to develop coordination strategies while building out the mobile response teams and call center, to have service starting July 2022. They plan to start recruiting for administration staff and management team; however, it was mentioned that there is a mental health workforce shortage so they will need to do intensive outreach and recruitment to slowly build up to the 55 full time employment positions included in the budget.
This is a Community program, not a County program
Next steps for the community is to hold the County accountable to incorporating what the community needs this program to be into its design. Last fall, the County held two “listening sessions” and an online community input survey. 568 people participated and made the following recommendations:
- Response teams should consist of mental health clinicians, peers with lived experience, social workers, and medical clinicians
- Expertise should be de-escalation, trauma-informed, behavioral health-centered, and responsive to race, culture, gender, and disability
- Crisis services must include housing and shelter, mental health assessment and services, food, water, and other survival needs, medical care and medication, and crisis stabilization and respite centers
- An independent advisory board to provide ongoing monitoring and evaluation for transparency and accountability
The County Mental Health Board will form a Community Advisory Committee to serve as the advisory board and will provide ongoing oversight of program implementation. In addition to Mental Health Board Members, community members will be added to the committee as voting members. Voting members will be able to vote on recommendations that are provided to the Mental Health Board, which can then be voted on and provided to the Board of Supervisors. While this Committee takes shape, the County will host “Community Stakeholder Workgroups” to collect community feedback on program design, partnerships, marketing of the program, etc.
Ways to Get Involved:
- Attend the next Community Stakeholder Workgroup hosted by the County. You can also follow @DrCorrine or @Mobilize4MentalHealth on IG to stay up-to-date.
- There are currently 4 vacant seats on the Mental Health Board. You can apply for appointment if you meet one of the following four criteria:
- Live in District 2 and are a family member of someone who has been a consumer of county mental health services
- Live in District 4 and have a public interest in county mental health service delivery
- Live in District 4 and have been a consumer of county mental health services
- Live in District 5 and have been a consumer of mental health services
If you’re interested, reach out to Jason Richards (916) 875-6482, firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Corrine is a licensed clinical psychologist and a licensed marriage & family therapist. She has over 20 years of experience providing mental health services in a variety of settings (i.e., school, community mental health centers, group home, intensive outpatient treatment program). She has been in private practice for the past 15 years, providing mental health services to the greater Sacramento community. She has extensive experience helping people with a range of presenting issues, from situational stressors to severe mental health concerns. Additionally, she has specialized training in treating anxiety disorders (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Panic Disorder, Social Anxiety, Specific Phobias, etc.) using Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), including Exposure and Response Prevention Therapy (ERP).
Social justice has always been a major interest and her passion for activism was ignited after the killing of George Floyd. Since then, she has volunteered with local racial justice organizations to foster awareness of social injustices and to promote community solidarity. Her involvement has included consultation regarding the importance of self-care for activists, design & co-facilitation of healing spaces for community events, and promoting awareness & organizing support for non-law enforcement response to mental health crises. Dr. Corrine strives to not just be a culturally competent practitioner but an anti-racist psychologist. She believes that to be an anti-racist psychologist requires not only acknowledgement of racism but active opposition to racism within ourselves, our research, our teaching, our organizations, our practice, and the policies shaping our society.
You can find out more about her by visiting her website www.drcorrinemcintosh.com or following her on social media (IG: @drcorrine; Facebook: Dr. Corrine McIntosh).