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AMADOR COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF

MENTAL HEALTH

Authority for Review

Grand Jury Jurisdiction provided by Penal Code Section 925.

Background

Periodic review of County agencies.

Method of Review

Interview with Director of Health & Human Services Agency
Interview with Director of Mental Health
Interview with Mental Health Administrative Support Supervisor
Interview with Director of Operation Care
Review of Policy and Procedures Manual
On-site visits

Findings

The Department of Mental Health provides community mental health services by providing local treatment and educational programs. Mental Health provides ongoing counseling and medication for approximately 320 patients.

On staff are five state certified therapists trained in counseling and treatment. They specialize in marriage and child therapy, case management for the elderly, probation, education, and child sex abuse. Also a dual diagnostic therapist works with Mental Health and with Drug and Alcohol programs. There are two part-time psychiatrists on contract to prescribe medication. All Mental Health office staff is trained in crisis situations including suicide prevention.

The Department of Mental Health provides clinical services for adults and children in the community. Therapy is provided for low income families on a sliding fee scale. Mental Health also provides educational services to community groups, schools, and employee organizations. Referrals are received from other county agencies, doctors, schools, law enforcement, the hospital, drug and alcohol programs and Operation Care.

Operation Care, a non-profit crisis intervention center, mans a 24- hour crisis hot line. Volunteers receive calls and then refer them to the appropriate county agency. When the Mental Health office is closed, their telephone recording refers clients to call Operation Care. Operation Care answers and then pages the Mental Health therapist who is "on-call" on a rotating basis.

If Mental Health does not respond within 30 minutes, the call is handled by the volunteer. These volunteers receive up to 40 hours of formal training.

Conclusions

The Mental Health Department depends on Operation Care to screen non-office hour calls.

Calls to the Mental Health Department should not be screened by Operation Care volunteers with limited training.

Recommendation

Mental Health should provide a direct 24-hour phone service between clients and a therapist.

Response Required

The Amador County Grand Jury requests the Director of Health & Human Services Agency and the Director of Mental Health to respond within 90 days as required by Penal Code Section 933(c).
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