The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department will expand its behavioral health services — aimed at helping individuals with mental-health or substance-abuse issues — with the award of a $167,000 grant from the federal Health and Human Services department. Already, Public Health sees nearly 26,000 patients each year, said spokesperson Jackie Ruiz in a press release on Tuesday. Of current patients, 93 percent live on less than 200 percent of the federal poverty line and 23 percent are uninsured. About 14 percent have behavioral-health diagnoses.
The grant will improve “treatment and recovery for people with mental illness,” said county Public Health’s Deputy Director Doug Metz, at the five health-care centers — in Carpinteria, Franklin, Lompoc, Santa Barbara and Santa Maria — and the three homeless shelter–based clinics run by county health. They “deliver care and offer compassion to people dealing with emotional issues,” Metz related, and the funding will help them hire staff to meet the demand for services in Santa Barbara County.
“Treating the whole person through the integration of behavioral health services and primary care saves lives,” said Ruiz, as it “reduces poor health outcomes, ensures quality care, and promotes efficiency and cost savings.”