With the passage of Senate Bill 364 this week, counties could have more flexibility for treating people who are placed on 72-hour holds for a mental health crisis.
State leaders said they've dedicated hundreds of millions of dollars this year to fund more crisis treatment facilities in California.
In Stanislaus County and many other places, people suffering from a crisis often are held in hospital emergency rooms for two or three days until beds open in a psychiatric center.
Others are given some form of treatment in jails if their behavior resulted in arrest.
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Senate Bill 364, which still needs the governor's signature, provides options for caring for people with specific disorders in unlocked environments such as residential facilities and to adopt procedures for training health workers, said staff for Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento.
Stanislaus County officials want to put a crisis stabilization unit next to a 16-bed psychiatric health facility in Ceres, which is planned to increase the county's bed space. People with less severe symptoms could remain in the crisis unit without going to a locked center.
The county will apply for funds from the Mental Health Wellness Act of 2013 to create the unit, said Madelyn Schlaepfer, director of county Behavioral Health and Recovery Services.
Schlaepfer was pleased with passage of SB 364. It will enable more rural counties to use remote links for patient evaluations and allows people to get treatment in less restrictive settings.
Under the patient rights section of the bill, people can ask to be taken to a treatment facility of their choice. The section also requires they be informed about patient advocacy services. For adults taken into custody, it ensures their children and property are secured.
The bill received endorsements from the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the California Mental Health Directors Association and Disability Rights California.
Bee staff writer Ken Carlson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2321.