Untreated mental health conditions and substance use can be contributing factors to homelessness; connecting individuals to mental health services and alcohol/drug treatment can be key to helping to resolve homelessness and ongoing housing stability. Sacramento County Behavioral Health Services
is expanding access at emergency shelters in Sacramento County for individuals with serious mental illness who are experiencing homelessness by providing mental health and drug/alcohol assessments and connections to services.
Beginning this month, a licensed clinical social worker, also known as an Access Clinician, began providing in-person office hours at various Sacramento County emergency shelters. These new office hours allow clients to talk to a clinician when they are ready to seek treatment services. After meeting with the Access Clinician, individuals are given a recommended plan and linkage to contracted providers for ongoing services or referrals to appropriate resources to meet their needs.
Melissa Jacobs, Sacramento County Behavioral Health Division Manager, said, “We can improve an individual’s experience in seeking behavioral health services by being where they are when they are ready for the services. Having an Access Clinician on-site at shelters will provide a consistent in-person response to many who may otherwise not make a phone call.”
To support countywide efforts in expediting services for individuals with serious mental illness
and/or co-occurring substance use disorders that are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless, Sacramento County Behavioral Health Services worked with long-standing local emergency shelters to create a schedule of designated office hours throughout the week at the different shelter locations.
Ryan Quist, Sacramento County Behavioral Health Director, said, “Sacramento County is currently working to provide these in-person clinical screening services to address both mental illness and substance use disorders at publicly funded emergency shelters operated by the Salvation Army, Sacramento Self-Help Housing, Next Move, Volunteers of America Housing Services and Wind Youth Services.”
This community-based program provides mental health services and alcohol/drug treatment assessments aiming to reduce the long-term negative impact on individuals and families from untreated serious mental illness. The programs are funded through the Sacramento County Mental Health Services Act (MHSA)
and plans for each MHSA component are the result of local community planning processes. The programs contained in the plan work together with the rest of the system to create a continuum of services in order to better meet the needs of our diverse community.
Since May 2018, Sacramento County Behavioral Health Services, working with contracted providers, have housed 624 individuals that had been homeless. Contract providers work directly with the community to build relationships with clients and property owners - improving the lives of people in our community. It is the collaboration with County departments, contract providers, community groups, stakeholders and other jurisdictions within our region that has contributed to rehousing an average of 52 individuals a month.
Additional information on what Sacramento County is doing to respond to homelessness can be found on the “Responding to Homelessness” website
. Improving access to mainstream services that help with housing stability and quality of life is one of six key solutions contained in the County Homeless Plan, adopted by the Board of Supervisors last December.