Public Health Receives Award to Advance Behavioral Health Services

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Source: Public Health Department

The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department (PHD) received approval by the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) and CenCal Health for expanded Behavioral Health Integration in its Health Care Centers. The available funding of $1,161,497 over 26 months is made possible through the DHCS Behavioral Health Integration (BHI) Incentive Program. The program, implemented locally through CenCal Health, will incentivize improvement of physical and behavioral health outcomes, care delivery efficiency, and patient experience in two projects within the PHD’s Behavioral Health program. These projects aim to accomplish the following:

  • Increase prenatal and postpartum access to mental health and substance use disorder screening and treatment
  • Improve health indicators for patients with both diabetes and serious mental illness  


“The Public Health Department’s Health Care Centers, homeless shelter clinics, and behavioral health providers are on the front lines delivering compassionate care to people living with issues related to substance use and mental health,” said Public Health Director Van Do-Reynoso. “This funding supports programs for two distinct groups where access to care has previously been scarce. This opportunity will increase our ability to provide a higher level of service for women who are pregnant or have recently given birth and have also screened positive for drug use and/or depression. In addition, the funding will foster the development of treatment programs for diabetes care for people with Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder.”

Perinatal mood and anxiety disorders are the most common complication of pregnancy and have been found to have long-term implications for both mother and child. The enhanced screening and treatment opportunities afforded through this incentive opportunity will offer many people hope during a momentous life event.

Individuals with serious mental illness who use antipsychotics are at increased risk of diabetes.  Diabetes screening for people diagnosed with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder who take antipsychotic medications is important for early detection and management. This program will ensure referrals are made, patients are educated about diabetes, and treatment plans are coordinated between treating psychiatrists and primary care physicians. 

Currently there are Behavioral Health Specialists (either Licensed Clinical Social Workers or Psychologists) at each Health Care Center with part-time support offered at the PATH Shelter in Santa Barbara. In addition, there are Substance Abuse Counselors working with people who are experiencing homelessness throughout the county either in shelters or on the streets. This funding will expand the PHD’s capabilities and offer more access to care.

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