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San Diego County BHS Community Program Planning (CPP) plan is older than Twitter.

To the best of our knowledge, the last time San Diego County drafted a Community Program Planning (CPP) process plan and budget, used to describe the ways the Behavioral Health Services (BHS) would meaningfully engage people with serious mental-health issues, their families and other stakeholders, was in 2005, a year before Twitter was born.

1. March 2005 plan and budget to build a CPP Planning Team (Cost: ~$700k or $1m in 2023 dollars)
2. December 2005 CSS including describing the CPP (p10-22) and,
3. June 2006 CSS Plan Addendum

Fast forward a decade to 2015, and since that time, the Behavioral Health Advisory Board (BHAB) has never had a chance to ‘review and approve’ the BHS CPP plan and budget as is required by law.

The CPP is so important, the state allocates up to 5% of MHSA funding, which is well over $200 million this fiscal year, and projected nearly $400 million in the next fiscal year. This provides significant amounts of funding that could be funding community engagement programs and services, as well as for a wide range of stakeholders who want to be involved in the CPP process, to get the training and knowledge they need to meaningfully participate in the outcomes-evaluation, strategic planning, and budgeting processes. Each and every year. Not every 15 or 20 years.

The fact is, the BHS thinks they’re doing enough. The problem is, reinforced by state law, is it is not up to them to make that determination alone.

If the BHS cannot honor its responsibility to work with the oversight-BHAB and collaborate to develop its planning processes as is required, one can only imagine how much respect they put into listening for the most marginalized San Diegans, especially the ones most affected by a system that isn’t yet serving them.

Enough is enough. This issue has been reported in local media in 2015 and 2018, and we have been illustrating the problem and describing the mandated and funded solutions that whole time, in BHAB meetings since 2015, adding this blog since 2018, including our most recent 2023 report brief.

The BHS has consistently rebuffed, denied, ignored, and sometimes snickered at this author’s sincere attempts to simply discuss the issue at dozens of BHAB meetings, seeking solutions. The BHAB itself has been unknowingly duped into believing what they are being told is fact by a BHS that seems intent on keeping our BHAB effectively irrelevant.

I will be the first to apologize if I am wrong. But, I have painstakingly tried to have dialog with an agency that simply will not collaborate, nor discuss this issue in public meetings. So, how about we, for once, dispute the facts, not impune anyone’s character?

From our perspective, it seems there is a systemic institutional inability to face up to the fact that the BHS has never been tasked to develop and deploy a mental health services plan for us. They must build and deploy it with us, all of us.

Many of us are the consumers that are at times struggling to regain our minds and our lives with a system that is getting better at being in touch but, is far from being the authentically stakeholder-engaged system the law was fashioned to provide. We seem content as a polished 2005-era fashioned BHS that insists upon sustaining the status quo.

When will you have enough, and insist on your right to meaningfully contribute?

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