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State to provide $75 million in mental health grants

State Treasurer Bill Lockyer announced the approval Thursday of $75.3 million in grants that aim to stabilize residents with severe mental illness before they land in jail or suffer multiple hospitalizations.
(Robert Durell / Los Angeles Times)

SAN FRANCISCO -- State Treasurer Bill Lockyer announced the approval Thursday of $75.3 million in grants that aim to stabilize residents with severe mental illness before they land in jail or suffer multiple hospitalizations.

The 20 grants will go to 28 counties for new or expanded services. They will add 827 residential mental health beds and crisis “stabilization” beds, and pay for more than three dozen vehicles and five dozen staff members for mobile support teams, which often accompany local law enforcement to defuse tense situations and direct those in need to care.

The grants were approved by the California Health Facilities Financing Authority, which Lockyer chairs.

“These programs will save lives, help keep mental health patients out of jails and hospital emergency rooms, and prevent needless suffering,” he said in a statement.

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The money awarded amounts to about half the disbursements allowable under the Investment in Mental Health Wellness Act of 2013, which was created by legislation sponsored last year by Senate leader Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento).

“Our criminal justice system and hospital emergency rooms are packed full of people who end up there because they were arrested or hospitalized during a mental health crisis and had nowhere else to go,” Steinberrg said in a statement. “More crisis residential beds and mental health crisis teams can make the difference between recovery and a downward spiral into severe mental illness.”

The act lays out the maximum amount of money each region can receive, and those not awarded their maximum allocation in the first round can apply for additional funds in subsequent rounds.

Of the grants approved:

-- Los Angeles County received $40.9 million to create 35 crisis residential programs, four crisis stabilization units and 16 mobile crisis support teams. Overall, Los Angeles County will add 560 residential beds, 72 stabilization beds, and five vehicles and 17 staff for mobile crisis support teams.

-- Riverside, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties received $7.9 million for residential beds, $4.7 million for stabilization units and $1.8 million for mobile crisis support.

-- The Bay Area counties of Santa Clara, Alameda, Sonoma, Marin and Contra Costa received $8.8 million for residential beds, $2.7 million for stabilization units and $990,000 for mobile crisis support.

-- The Central Valley counties of Fresno, Merced, Sacramento, San Joaquin and Yolo received $2 million for residential beds, $2.6 million for stabilization units and $1.1 million for mobile crisis support.

-- The northern counties of Butte, Nevada, Lake and Mendocino received $867,000 for residential beds, $500,000 for stabilization units and $296,000 for mobile crisis support.

Four counties -- Sonoma, Fresno, San Joaquin and Los Angeles -- plan to reserve some stabilization beds for adolescents, who are particularly under-served.

More information on each county’s plans are available here.

Twitter @leeromney

lee.romney@latimes.com


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