My name is Jerry Hall. Although I serve on the Behavioral Health Advisory Board, I am here speaking as an individual.
When California enacted the Mental Health Services Act in 2004 through Proposition 63 and more recently in 2019 enhanced via AB1352, the current law includes a specific citizens Advisory Board to give non-conflicted advice to county Supervisors.
We are family members, people in recovery, industry professionals, and one of our voting board members is one of your own Supervisors, Supervisor Gaspar.
Our Board is required by state law to perform many duties, among other things including:
- Reviewing and approving procedures used to ensure citizen and professional involvement at all stages of the planning process.
- Reviewing and evaluating the community’s public mental health needs, services, facilities, and special problems in any facility
With that information in hand, combined with our own professional and lived-experience, we are responsible to:
- Advise Supervisors and the local mental health director as to any aspect of the local mental health program.
To ensure this work can be done well, the law allows us to allocate the equivalent of nearly $10m this past fiscal year as an annual budget.
There Are Glaring Challenges
- Last fiscal year we did not spend one dollar from these funds. The BHS department did contract a brief series of Community Forums but, to this day our BHAB has yet to see the results of this exercise. (more on this topic)
- The Advisory Board has been treated as merely a spectator, not engaged in any meaningful way in the process, and certainly not able to ensure citizens and other stakeholders are meaningfully engaged.
- Supervisor Gaspar sits on the board as a voting member as required by law but, has yet to attend one meeting since January 2019.
We are unable to do our work as the law requires because we are not given unfettered access to the information or tools the law was specifically designed to provide.
In theory we’re supposed to be autonomous advisory body. In practice we are simply a well tamed board doing the bidding of the BHS department and virtually invisible to those working to reform our Behavioral Health System.
I urge you to take immediate concrete steps to ensure your Advisory Board is equipped and empowered to give you the highest quality feedback in an effectively and timely basis.
Not utilizing this tool is affecting many San Diegans deeply. And, not using this tool during this particular health crisis would be a missed opportunity of significant proportion.
7/7/2020 Note: Slight edits, such as adding hyperlinks, were made to the eComment version submitted for today’s meeting.