Here’s the text of the public comment I made at today’s 2/4/2021 BHAB meeting.
Good afternoon everyone. I hope you are all well, safe and happy.
My name is Jerry Hall. Although I am a Member of this Behavioral Health Advisory Board or (BHAB), I’m speaking here for myself as an individual and consumer of our county BHS services.
From my perspective, I believe there are systemic dysfunctions in our county government as it relates to this Advisory Board, and which have become cemented into the status quo. We’re not alone. Since 2005, many mental health advisory boards throughout California have been marginalized to such a point that they have been unable to do their intended jobs.
My hope is that this board, our Board of Supervisors as a body, and every stakeholder from consumers to providers will hear this message and work alongside the BHAB to take immediate corrective actions.
For background, in 2004, California’s voters decided that our state’s now over 72 thousand millionaires pay 1% of income in excess of a million dollars, into what is now a two-billion dollar annual fund covering about 35% of California’s mental health services costs.
The resulting MHSA law was designed so that counties would empower their mental health consumers, families and other stakeholder-community members and organizations to design and build their Mental Health Systems (MHS).
In reality, stakeholders, and this BHAB itself, are arguably all restrained by design.
One of the most important components of the law guiding this Advisory Board’s work is our charge to ensure meaningful citizen and professional involvement at all stages of the planning process. This responsibility is facilitated through what’s called Community Program Planning or (CPP) processes.
Voters and legislators thought this CPP was so important, they provided that up to 5% of the MHSA funds San Diego County receives annually or, $7.5m in FY2020-21, could be used to fulfill these obligations.
Our job is then to inform all of our Supervisors so that they receive well-rounded feedback from this diverse body of un-conflicted stakeholders. That feedback is intended to inform them so that they can direct the Behavioral Health Services appropriately.
Yet, the truth is that we are not following the letter nor intent of the law.
How we can ethically procure hundreds of millions of dollars in services every year without meeting the requirements of our mandate is concerning.
But, let’s get past that doom and gloom. This is fixable. We can break out of the status quo and begin following the law.
That will take two primary things: One, our Supervisors becoming better informed and empowering the Behavioral Health Advisory Board with the respect, ability, and authority it is mandated to have, and two, the determination and commitment of this BHAB to step up and take responsibility.
Thankfully, this year Board of Supervisors Chair Nathan Fletcher is one of the 21 members of our Board. With his and the other Supervisor’s help, and through the other BHAB Member’s commitment, we can begin exploring opportunities Supervisors from the past missed.
Finally, I discuss this and related issues, and would love any feedback, on my blog at BHABrehab.com.