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Guest opinion column by County Supervisor Sue Frost–
The discussion around the ever-growing homeless crisis often gets linked to the issue of mental illness, and rightfully so.
But mental health issues are something that we have become more aware of as society over time. We know that mental health problems can manifest themselves in different ways and affect everyone differently.
Too often, we do not become aware of the severity of a mental health problem until we see the manifestation of it before our eyes. It is those moments, when a person is in crisis, that law enforcement is often forced to become involved.
I was pleased to be able to announce last year that my colleagues and I approved an increase of $72 million for mental health spending, largely from state funding sources. At the time, I was excited that part of that funding would go to expand the number of Mobile Crisis Support Teams (MCST) in the County and even wrote one of my monthly articles about it.
Guest Opinion: the mental health crisis is growing, but here’s some good news
For those who may not be familiar, an MCST consists of a Sheriff’s Deputy or law enforcement officer partnered with a licensed mental health counselor. Together, they respond to 911 calls involving a person experiencing a mental health crisis.
The licensed mental health counselor makes contact with the subject of these calls, unarmed, and takes an informed, compassionate approach. This approach enables the MCST to evaluate the situation and identify what services an individual may be in need of.
The results of the MCST have been significant in reducing arrests and connecting homeless individuals with services.
When I wrote about the MCST expansion last year, the entire north part of the county was going to expand from having two mobile crisis teams to the three.
While that was a positive development to be sure, I knew that we would need more. That is why I could not be any more thrilled to say that my district will now have five full-time MCSTs dedicated.
For the people of Citrus Heights, this means going from having a part-time team to a full-time team, directly in the community. More dedicated MCSTs means that our communities will be better equipped to address the growing number of mental health crisis calls.
In total, the county is seeing the number of MCSTs going from six teams to eleven.
When I heard that we would be seeing this type of increase, I knew I had to fight to get the people of my district as many dedicated teams as possible. As a result, District 4 will be served by five of the eleven total teams.
The Folsom and Citrus Heights police departments will both have a full time licensed counselor working with their officers, and the unincorporated portions will have three licensed counselors, each with a Sheriff’s Deputy.
I look forward to seeing these teams up-and-running this March, making our communities safer. MCSTs offer a balanced approach to a delicate problem and I am thankful for this development.
Sacramento County Supervisor Sue Frost formerly served as a Citrus Heights councilwoman and currently represents District 4, which includes Citrus Heights. On Feb. 24 at 6 p.m., Frost will hold a community meeting at Citrus Heights City Hall. She can be contacted at (916) 874-5491, or SupervisorFrost@saccounty.net.
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