A proposed three-year $59.3 million plan for mental health services in Fresno County would maintain or increase programs and add a few new ones.
The plan, which outlines how the county will spend funds from the Mental Health Services Act, will be open for discussion at a public hearing Monday afternoon at the Blue Sky Wellness Center in Fresno.
The county is budgeting about $14 million more in funds for 2015-16 than this year’s $45.3 million budget. The mental-health funds are from a California state tax on millionaires that voters approved in 2004.
One of the proposals in the county plan would place mental-health clinicians at police departments in rural cities in the western portion of the county. The county would provide $350,000 to match funding from the Fresno and Madera Counties Police Chiefs Association to pay for workers who can respond to mental-health crisis calls. The workers would be in Coalinga, Huron, Firebaugh, Mendota and San Joaquin.
The county has a $2.9 million, three-year state grant that is paying for workers in police departments in Selma, Sanger, Parlier, Reedley, Orange Cove, Kingsburg and Fowler on the eastern side of the county.
“We identified a gap in rural services, and this addresses that,” said Karen Markland, behavioral health division manager.
The county also would increase case management services in rural areas covered by Turning Point, the county’s contracted behavioral health provider. The plan would allow 45 additional people to be served in Sanger, Reedley, Pinedale, Selma, Kerman and Coalinga. The county is helping about 130 people this year.
Recovery and wellness is really a focus.
Karen Markland, Fresno County Behavioral Health division manager
Under prevention, the county would spend $150,000 to develop a strategic plan for suicide prevention and stigma reduction. “The rates of suicide in Fresno County are horrific and we want to make a difference,” Markland said. In 2014, there were 111 suicides in the county.
Under capital improvements, the county would allocate $1 million for the construction of a 16-bed crisis residential treatment building in Fresno. The money would be the county’s match for a state grant. The total project will cost about $5.2 million. Right now, the county has no 30-day residential treatment program for people who have been discharged from hospital treatment. “This would provide someone with a safe place to live and an opportunity to continue their rehabilitation,” she said.
The county also is proposing to spend $4.2 million to buy a building at Blackstone and Dakota avenues to house administrative services and some adult and children’s services. The Mental Health Services Act divides money into pots, and funds spent for buildings do not take away from money available for client services, Markland said.
Funds for community gardens would continue under the plan. The gardens have generated controversy in the past, but Markland said they have decreased feelings of isolation and of suicide among participants. The funding for the gardens would remain at $325,000, which is about 0.20 percent of the prevention and early intervention funds available to the county, she said. A Holistic Cultural Education Wellness Center would continue to be funded through the next fiscal year.
The plan would increase the three-year reserve balance by $34.8 million for a total of $48.1 million. The reserve is like a savings account.
Fresno County Mental Health Services Act Plan
Public hearing: 3-5 p.m. Monday
Blue Sky Wellness Center
1617 E. Saginaw Way, Room 108