Today's Law As Amended

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AB-1331 Mental health: Statewide Director of Crisis Services.(2021-2022)

As Amends the Law Today


 Section 5401 is added to the Welfare and Institutions Code, to read:

 (a) The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
(1) California’s system of caring for individuals experiencing a behavioral health crisis is fragmented and breaking — some would say it is completely broken. An estimated 1.4 million Californians now live with a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depression, while millions of others struggle with day-to-day problems that occasionally rise to the crisis level. There are inadequate crisis services available for individuals experiencing a behavioral health crisis in virtually every geographic area of the state.
(2) The lack of coordination and continuity among programs in a multifaceted, complex system of state and local agencies frequently results in more expensive services with poorer outcomes for individuals and their families. Too often, individuals experiencing a behavioral health crisis are met with delay, detainment, and even denial of service in a manner that creates undue burden on the person, their family, law enforcement, emergency departments, and justice systems.
(3) The current approach to crisis care is patchwork and delivers minimal treatment for some people while others, often those who have not been engaged in care, fall through the cracks, resulting in multiple hospital readmissions, life in the criminal justice system, homelessness, early death, and suicide.
(4) A comprehensive and integrated behavioral health crisis care network is crucial in preventing tragedies of public and patient safety, violation of civil rights, extraordinary and unacceptable loss of lives, and waste of resources. California requires strong leadership on a statewide basis to develop an effective crisis care system that saves lives and dollars.
(b) The Director of Health Care Services shall appoint a full-time Statewide Director of Crisis Services who shall establish, monitor, and sustain a comprehensive crisis care system that ensures Californians receive the care they deserve in a time of crisis in the most effective and expedient way possible. The Statewide Director of Crisis Services shall engage and coordinate with the Department of Managed Health Care, the Department of Insurance, and other departments, agencies, and appropriate entities, as necessary, to ensure the existence of a comprehensive, integrated network of services on which people in a mental health or substance use disorder crisis can rely. The duties and responsibilities of the Statewide Director of Crisis Services shall include, but not be limited to, all of the following:
(1) Convening state and local leaders to develop and implement a cohesive statewide behavioral health crisis care delivery system, including performance criteria and success indicators, utilizing the National Guidelines for Crisis Care – A Best Practice Toolkit published by the United States Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration in 2020.
(2) Coordinating behavioral health programs and services statewide to ensure continuity of services and access points across county lines, other geographic boundaries, or both, and to promote and enhance cross-agency information exchange and resource sharing.
(3) Identifying and addressing behavioral health services gaps and needs to ensure optimal service delivery in order to maximize resources to effectively meet the diverse needs of people and communities.
(4) Ensuring that the use of existing infrastructures and competencies of behavioral health prevention and early intervention services are maximized.
(5) Ensuring that the financial alignment of behavioral health funding best meets the needs of individuals across California.
(6) Collecting and analyzing data on existing behavioral health program results and effectiveness.
(7) Promoting the utilization of successful, promising, and evidence-based behavioral health services and service delivery.
(8) Making recommendations to the department on strategic direction for the establishment of, modification of, or improvements to the existing crisis care network in order to ensure the existence of a comprehensive, coordinated, consistent system of crisis care delivery.
(9) Conducting appropriate planning processes, involving relevant stakeholders, to ensure the crisis care delivery system is on a path of continuous and ongoing quality improvement.
(c) The Director of Health Care Services shall ensure that the Statewide Director of Crisis Services has the resources necessary, in terms of both funding and staff, to achieve the duties and responsibilities of the position.