Across the nation, many states and communities are working to address a variety of behavioral health challenges. Here is some of the behavioral health and addiction treatment news making headlines in California.
Controversial California Law Could Force Conservatorship for Severe Behavioral Health and Substance Abuse
Under a law passed last year, the counties of San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego can create conservatorships for a person with serious behavioral health or substance use disorders who cannot care for themselves. Los Angeles County is currently considering a plan to take guardianship over some homeless individuals and place them in mandatory treatment.
Earlier this year, San Francisco passed an ordinance to implement a similar program, although no individuals have yet been sent to treatment. The ACLU of Southern California has argued that this plan will not resolve the state’s homelessness problems. However, some community members support mandatory rehab for individuals with severe needs amid California’s increasing homelessness crisis.
Statewide “Warmline” May Help Prevent Mental Health Crises
The San Francisco Peer-Run Warm Line, first launched in 2014, has expanded throughout California. This expansion comes with a state budget allocation of $10.8 million for 3 years.
Compared to a crisis hotline, a warmline is intended to help individuals who need mental-health support but who are not in immediate crisis. By providing earlier intervention and emotional support, such as connecting individuals to behavioral health services, a warmline could help reduce the risk of an emergency hospital visit or ER call. However, they are a recent invention and their impact has not been thoroughly studied.
Southern California Opioid Fatalities Highest in Orange County
While the total number of opioid-related deaths has declined since 2016, Orange County still has the highest rate of opioid-related deaths in California. The county is also seeing an increase in heroin and fentanyl overdoses.
A county report, “Addressing the Opioid Crisis in Orange County,” found that overdose deaths are more common in areas with some of the highest concentrations of treatment centers. Additionally, many county addiction treatment centers do not offer medication-assisted treatment (MAT). While there is evidence for its effectiveness, MAT continues to face stigma and uncertainty among community members.
Despite Parity Laws, Mental Health Coverage Remains Limited
Consulting company Milliman recently issued a report that patients are much more likely to use out-of-network providers for behavioral health and addiction or substance abuse treatment than for other conditions. This disparity has increased since a previous study that Milliman published in 2017. For example, inpatient behavioral health care in California was 7.8 times more likely to be out-of-network.
Many Americans find it more difficult to find affordable behavioral health treatment, despite a 2008 law requiring insurers to provide equal access for mental and physical health care. The lack of affordability has become a nationwide concern amid rising rates of addiction, suicide, depression, and anxiety.
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