In 2018, many of our behavioral health agency clients took on the challenge to increase treatment access and quality among the most vulnerable and under-served members of their communities. Here is a look into work that helped position Contra Costa and Santa Clara Counties to accomplish their goals.
Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) laws allow courts to order certain individuals with severe mental health disorders to participate in community-based treatment as an alternative to forcing them into mental hospitals or jails, and to compel the mental health system to provide the court-ordered treatment. Contra Costa County’s AOT program is designed to engage and provide treatment to the County’s most seriously mentally ill individuals who struggle to participate in services by expanding referral and outreach processes and providing Assertive Community Treatment services and civil court involvement. In 2015, Contra Costa Behavioral Health Services contracted RDA to conduct a four-year mixed-methods evaluation of their AOT pilot program. We have worked closely with the County’s AOT partners to establish a shared vision of how to best use the evaluation to strengthen the pilot program, as well as to enhance their data infrastructure and data collection capacity to advance continuous program improvement. As a result of this collaboration with the County and stakeholders, the project has transitioned from a pilot to full implementation, and will continue to support the County’s efforts to enhance services to the severely mentally ill population.
In 2004, California voters passed Proposition 63, the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA), designed to expand and transform California’s county mental health service systems by providing better-coordinated and more comprehensive care to people with serious mental illness, especially in underserved populations. Resulting from our recent needs assessment, Santa Clara County’s Behavioral Health Services Department (BHSD) committed to redesigning their adult specialty mental health system to provide comprehensive services to the highest-need adult mental health consumers in the county. RDA conducted this process by leading mixed-methods data collection and analysis; facilitating community feedback sessions; and developing a final report assessing the current specialty mental health system, providing recommendations for system improvement, and outlining considerations for implementing those recommendations. This has positioned BHSD to take concrete steps toward ensuring that adults with the most serious mental health problems have access to and engage in effective services to promote their safety and recovery.