Sunday, May 29 , 2016, 9:24 am | Fog/Mist 58º

Santa Barbara County Gets $8.3 Million Mental-Health Grant

By Lara Cooper, Noozhawk Staff Writer | @laraanncooper |

Employees with Santa Barbara County's Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Services were celebrating Friday after learning the department would be awarded an $8.3 million state grant to beef up services for people in mental-health crisis.

It's a huge victory for the chronically underfunded department, and will allow funding to stretch over 3½ years and enable more hiring for case workers and therapists.

The department provides treatment, rehabilitation and support services each year to approximately 7,600 clients with mental illness and 4,500 clients with substance-use disorders.

"We were delighted that we were awarded the grant," ADMHS chief strategy officer Suzanne Grimmesey told Noozhawk on Friday, adding that the group was actually awarded more money than what it initially applied for.

The funds are going to both ends of the mental-health spectrum, Grimmesey said, with an emphasis on prevention as well as treating people in crisis situations.

The money will help fill 23.5 full-time positions of mental health professionals, consumer and family peers, case workers and psychiatrists in Santa Barbara, Santa Maria and Lompoc.

"These are all new staff," Grimmesey said.

The program is designed to reduce costs associated with expensive inpatient and emergency room care by better serving people experiencing mental health crises in the least restrictive manner possible.

Creating a "warm hand-off" for people coming from hospital emergency rooms or coming out of the county psychiatric health facility will be key, she said.

That means that once people are discharged, a case worker will help them pick up any medications they need and smoothly transition back into life outside hospital walls.

The department will also hear back about another grant later this spring that would bring another $2 million into ADMHS coffers.

The funding for new crisis triage teams was made possible by state Senate Bill 82, the Investment in Mental Health Wellness Act of 2013, and administered by the Mental Health Services Office of Accountability Commission.

“Since initiating a systems change initiative last spring, ADMHS has built extensive partnerships with stakeholders to redesign county alcohol, drug and mental programs and services,” said Dr. Takashi Wada, ADMHS interim director. “Enhanced crisis services are a top stakeholder priority, and new grant funding for crisis-triage teams is enormously helpful in providing the services the community wants and deserves."

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at [email protected]. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Reader Comments

Noozhawk's intent is not to limit the discussion of our stories but to elevate it. Comments should be relevant and must be free of profanity and abusive language and attacks.

By posting on Noozhawk, you:

» Agree to be respectful. Noozhawk encourages intelligent and impassioned discussion and debate, but now has a zero-tolerance policy for those who cannot express their opinions in a civil manner.

» Agree not to use Noozhawk’s forums for personal attacks. This includes any sort of personal attack — including, but not limited to, the people in our stories, the journalists who create these stories, fellow readers who comment on our stories, or anyone else in our community.

» Agree not to post on Noozhawk any comments that can be construed as libelous, defamatory, obscene, profane, vulgar, harmful, threatening, tortious, harassing, abusive, hateful, sexist, racially or ethnically objectionable, or that are invasive of another’s privacy.

» Agree not to post in a manner than emulates, purports or pretends to be someone else. Under no circumstances are readers posting to Noozhawk to knowingly use the name or identity of another person, whether that is another reader on this site, a public figure, celebrity, elected official or fictitious character. This also means readers will not knowingly give out any personal information of other members of these forums.

» Agree not to solicit others. You agree you will not use Noozhawk’s forums to solicit and/or advertise for personal blogs and websites, without Noozhawk’s express written approval.

Noozhawk’s management and editors, in our sole discretion, retain the right to remove individual posts or to revoke the access privileges of anyone who we believe has violated any of these terms or any other term of this agreement; however, we are under no obligation to do so.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.


Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.