Setting the Record Straight About the Behavioral Health Department

barry zimmerman

Regarding The Star’s February 4 editorial – ,Is the county ready for Prop. 1 objectives?” – The editorial failed to provide its readers with fully fact-checked opinions, including verified sources. Behavioral health services are so important to the community that it is important to be complete and well-presented to readers for a full understanding of any concerns.

First, the editorial claimed that the Ventura County Department of Behavioral Health (VCBH) had been operating as a “leaderless” department for five months. This is wrong. During this time of leadership transition, VCBH has been and continues to be led by an experienced and well-qualified leader with over 18 years of experience in the public health and behavioral health fields as the designated Acting/Interim Director. The department continues to progress programs and provide valuable services to the community.

Second, the editorial conflated the implementation of two independent pieces of legislation, Senate Bill 43 and Proposition 1, anticipating that if the VCBH SB 43 was not ready for implementation, the VCBH proposal would, in turn, be vetoed if voters passed the proposal. May not be ready for 1. Contrary to the editorial’s supposition, there is no “information void” and presentations on both pieces of legislation have been brought before policymakers and discussed in public forums, including a Board of Supervisors meeting in December. Shortly thereafter, the Behavioral Health Advisory Board (BHAB) also received a publicly approved presentation. Records of both can be seen by visiting their respective websites.

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To summarize what has been presented to the public, SB 43, which has been signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom in 2023, seeks to expand the scope of legislation in California with respect to individuals experiencing serious mental illness or substance use disorder. Directly affects guardianship laws. In the state of California, 56 out of 58 counties voted to delay the implementation of SB 43, including other large counties such as San Diego County, Los Angeles County, and Orange County. Statewide, the infrastructure to address the involuntary treatment needs of people with primary substance use disorder (SUD) does not currently exist because prior to SB 43, the legal basis for providing such services did not exist. As recognized by several counties, including Ventura County, it was concluded that time is needed to appropriately develop and establish resources to implement the provisions of SB 43 and it would be prudent to delay implementation. .

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In contrast, Proposition 1 is currently a voter initiative placed on the March 2024 primary ballot by the Governor and Legislature to modernize the state’s Behavioral Health Services Act (BHSA), formally known as the Mental Health Services Act or MHSA. is referred to as. The measure seeks to expand housing interventions and would now authorize the use of funds to treat individuals with standalone substance use disorders, as well as several other changes to the use of funds. Even if Proposition 1 is not passed by voters, VCBH has been working through March 2023 in close coordination and communication with partner counties and statewide organizations that will also be affected by this legislation, to increase the likelihood of this proposition being passed. Preparations can be made for. ,

Finally, VCBH works diligently to use all available funding efficiently, effectively, and in compliance with state and federal spending requirements. The claim that Ventura County is the only large county to return funds is false and fails to consider the regulatory requirements associated with the particular funding source, as well as the responsibility to prudently evaluate the need for continuity of programs and services. Has been implemented. To further clarify, the MHSA Prevention and Early Intervention (PEI) funds in question cannot be used to finance treatment/service for people with serious mental illnesses, nor for infrastructure development, but only to combat mental illness. Programming aimed at prevention has been forced.

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As a government entity, we are committed to providing accurate information to both the community and the media, as well as serving as responsible stewards of taxpayer dollars and providing valuable and vital care to the community.

While we understand and welcome reviews and questions regarding actions as part of responsible governance, we also expect appropriate engagement and dialogue with the media to communicate the most complete information to the community.


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