Behavioral Health Services


Abused Children’s Treatment Services (ACTS)

What is this service:
ACTS provides services for sexually abused children, age’s birth to 18 and their families. The primary goal of this program is to treat the symptoms and emotional trauma associated with sexual abuse, disclosure and court involvement, to reduce the possibility of further sexual abuse and to coordinate with other agencies in providing comprehensive services for victims and their families.

Access to Mental Health & Substance Use Disorder Services

The Behavioral Health Department operates a toll-free, 24-hour, 7-day-a-week, Central Access line to help SLO residents:

  1. Get mental health and substance use disorder services, including assessment
  2. Get mental health and substance use disorder crisis or urgent services
  3. Use the problem resolution and fair hearing processes

Please contact our access line at 1 (800) 838-1381 for information or to schedule an appointment. All services are available in Spanish.

During regular business hours, Central Access staff are available to schedule first appointments for callers.

Services are available in English, Spanish, and by interpreter in other languages spoken in the community.

Adult Full Service Partnership (FSP)

The Adult Full Service Partnership (FSP) program provides 24/7 intensive community-based wrap around services to help people in recovery live independently. The FSP Program is an intensive case management Team that works with program participants on a variety of rehabilitative services. FSP programs are funded by the Mental Health Services Act.

Adult Justice/Court Mandated Programs

The Drug and Alcohol team provides a full array of forensic treatment options for 18+ year olds who are experiencing substance use issues and have had involvement with the legal justice system. Individuals will be assessed for level of care and to create an individualized treatment plan. Criminal justice modalities include:

  • Deferred Entry of Judgment (DEJ)
  • Proposition-36
  • Family Treatment Court (FTC)
  • Adult Drug Court (ADC)
  • Post/Pre Release Treatment Services (PRTS—AB-109).

FTC is a therapeutic court, specifically designed for parents whose substance abuse contributes to child abuse and/or neglect resulting in involvement with juvenile court dependency proceedings under Welfare and Institutions Code sec. 300, etc. FTC is comprised of a Juvenile court judge, program coordinators from Drug and Alcohol Services and Department of Child Welfare Services, social workers, treatment specialists, CASA, and workers. The team is dedicated to parent/family progress through a 12-month, 4-phase treatment court. This court provides accountability, structure, incentives, and sanctions. FTC is a collaborative approach in promoting reunification of children with healthy parents living a clean and sober lifestyle.  

Adult Mental Health Outpatient Treatment

Adult Outpatient Mental Health Treatment services are provided to help determine your mental health treatment needs and meet your treatment goals. 

Please contact our access line at 1 (800) 838-1381 for information or to schedule an appointment. All services are available in Spanish.

Services include:

  • Screening, Assessment and Treatment Recommendations
  • Treatment Planning
  • Individual and Group Psychotherapy
  • Medication Services
  • Psychiatry
  • Case Management
  • Rehabilitation Services
  • Residential Options as they are available

Other programs include:

Adult Outpatient Substance Use Disorder Treatment

This service provides a full array of treatment options for adults (18 years and older) experiencing substance use issues.
Please contact our access line at 1 (800) 838-1381 for information or to schedule an appointment. All services are available in Spanish.

Services include:

  • Screening and Assessment
  • Treatment Planning
  • Psychotherapy
  • Medication Services
  • Psychiatry
  • Case Management
  • Adult Residential Placement

Other programs include:

Adult Residential Programs

The Behavioral Health Department assists in making referrals for the placement of adults in mental health residential programs and secure mental health residential programs. This service is primarily available to clients who are receiving County Mental Health Services and who are on Lanterman-Petris-Short (LPS) Conservatorship. Individuals or families can contact the assigned mental health provider for further information.  

Assisted Outpatient Treatment

Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) is court-ordered outpatient mental health treatment for individuals with serious mental illness who are unable to live safely in the community, but who refuse to participate in treatment on their own. The law that allows court-ordered treatment is sometimes called “Laura’s Law”. SLO Behavioral Health’s AOT program started in March, 2016, and is funded by the Mental Health Services Act.

AOT Program:
SLO Behavioral Health staff provide assessment, program support and coordination with the court. Services offered to AOT clients include:

  • Co-Occurring treatment to address both mental health and substance use disorder needs
  • Rehabilitation services to assist clients in learning and utilizing skills to improve self-care, social support system, and health
  • Intensive case management to support clients in accessing housing, financial, vocational, health care, and social support services, including voluntary mental health services

Behavioral Health Board

The Behavioral Health Board is an independent oversight body whose objectives include to:

  1. Review and evaluate the community’s behavioral health needs, services, and facilities.
  2. Ensure services are provided to improve and maintain the health of individuals and families affected by mental health and substance use issues. 
  3. Advise the Board of Supervisors and the Behavioral Health Administrator.
  4. Review and approve the procedures used to ensure citizen and professional involvement in program planning processes.
  5. Review and comment on the County’s performance outcome data and communicate its findings to the California Mental Health Planning Council. 
  6. Assess the impact of realignment of services on the local community to make recommendations for any service level reductions or expansions.

Behavioral Health Board meetings are held on the 3rd Wednesday of each month at The Health Agency Campus in San Luis Obispo (2180 Johnson Ave., San Luis Obispo, CA).

To apply for the Behavioral Health Board, (please complete an application) and bring in person to the next meeting.

For more information please contact Laura Zarate ( [email protected] , (805) 781-4719)

Behavioral Health Board

The Behavioral Health Board is an independent oversight body whose objectives include to:

  1. Review and evaluate the community’s behavioral health needs, services, and facilities.
  2. Ensure services are provided to improve and maintain the health of individuals and families affected by mental health and substance use issues. 
  3. Advise the Board of Supervisors and the Behavioral Health Administrator.
  4. Review and approve the procedures used to ensure citizen and professional involvement in program planning processes.
  5. Review and comment on the County’s performance outcome data and communicate its findings to the California Mental Health Planning Council. 
  6. Assess the impact of realignment of services on the local community to make recommendations for any service level reductions or expansions.

Behavioral Health Community Action Team

The Behavioral Health Community Action Team (BHCAT) is a partnership with the Sheriff's Office and is a co-responder model that provides proactive outreach, engagement, screening and assessment for early identification of people with mental illness or substance use issues, to encourage them to join treatment and other services, prior to or in lieu of arrest. The grant funded program began February 1, 2019. BHCAT has a goal to encounter and engage 600 individual contacts in the field and warmly hand-off 60 individuals for treatment in each year of the grant's duration. 

This Behavioral Health Community Action Team (BHCAT) is funded through a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Early Diversion Grant. The County received one of seven national awards. This is a five-year grant with $1.6 million awarded to the County. The grant supports the County's "Stepping Up Initiative" to reduce the number of people with mental illnesses in jails. 

For more information, please contact Teresa Pemberton, Division Manager for Behavioral Health, at 805-781-4997, [email protected]

Behavioral Health Managed Care

Managed Care performs many authorization and access functions, including: 

  1. Authorization of out-of-county inpatient psychiatric hospitalization
  2. Maintenance of a panel of Network Providers -- licensed therapists in the community who are carefully credentialed to ensure quality and network capacity
  3. Initial authorization of Residential Substance Use Disorder services
  4. Authorization of mental health services for youth in out-of-county placements

Behavioral Health Treatment Court

This service provides treatment opportunities for individuals who have behavioral health needs and have become involved in the criminal justice system. Upon successful completion individuals, depending criminal charges, may have their probation terminated early. Individuals will need to be on formal probation and have a minimum of one year remaining on probation to participate in this treatment court. Services include, case management, therapy, psychiatrist visits and medication management. 

Cannabis Health and Safety

Cannabis comes with important health and safety considerations, specifically for young people, pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, and people with other health conditions. It’s important for everyone to get the facts. Keep reading for FAQs and science-based resources for more information.

Child and Youth Full Service Partnership (FSP)

The Children and Youth Full Service Partnership (FSP) program serves children and youth ages 0-15 of all races and ethnicities with severe emotional disturbance or serious mental illnesses

College Prevention & Wellness

A new program funded by the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) to increase on-campus exposure to mental health and wellness promotion through training and activities at both Cal Poly and Cuesta College.

Community Counseling

Local Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) funds support community counseling providers who offer low or no cost, brief, low-intensity group and individual counseling to adults, who are uninsured or under-insured.

Community Services and Supports (CSS)

The County of San Luis Obispo Community Services and Supports (CSS) plan focuses on children and families, transitional aged youth (TAY), adults, and older adults who have the most severe and persistent mental illnesses or serious emotional disturbances.

Co-Occurring Disorder Treatment for Adolescents

This program, funded by the County's Mental Health Services Act work plan, was developed to serve adolescents and young adults (age 15-21) experiencing significant mental health and substance-related problems at the same time.

Co-Occurring Disorders Program

This service provides multi-diagnosis services and treatments for people who suffer from mental illness and substance abuse.

Court Screening

Behavioral Health clinician provides treatment screenings in the San Luis Obispo Court house. Screenings provide treatment referral options, level of care recommendations, and treatment court referrals. Referrals consist of treatment referrals for the following services:


Court Screening Appointment Process

  • Screening appointments for clients will be made by the persons attorney through email to the Justice Services office using the appropriate referral form
  • Referral form required: Paper or electronic fillable form may be used. The form encompasses the information needed to provide a court screening. 
  • Send screening form to [email protected] for a screening appointment
    • Requires name of Court room, defense counsel, DDA
    • Client contract information including date of birth
  • Justice Services office will schedule the appointment
    • In custody referrals will be sent to the screeners for time slots at the jail
    • Out of custody referrals will be contacted within 24 hours with a screening time (zoom or in-person). Zoom link or appointment location will be provided at the time the appointment is made. 
  • At the time appointments are made Justice Services will collect releases to disclose the outcome of the screening to the court involved entities (including Probation) and release to talk to potential housing options if this will be needed at determination. 

Referral Form Link

Crisis Stabilization Unit

The Crisis Stabilization Unit is a 24-hour voluntary residential care facility that is in place for crisis intervention, assessment, evaluation, collateral, medication support services, therapy, peer support, etc. to avoid unnecessary hospitalization and incarceration while improving wellness for individuals with mental health disorders and their families.

Services include:

  1. Individual and Family Counseling
  2. Medication Monitoring
  3. Life Skills Enhancement
  4. Development of needed resources, personal goals, and follow-up service plans.

Cultural Competence Committee

The Cultural Competence Committee (CCC) meets quarterly to monitor the training, policies, and procedures of the public mental health system and their relative enhancements of cultural competence in serving consumers and families. The primary objective of the group is to coordinate training to improve engagement with under served populations.

Customer Awareness Response Effort (CARE)- Not for Ourselves Alone

The “Not for Ourselves Alone” Customer Awareness Response Effort (CARE)  Innovation Program funded by Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) funds, provides trauma-informed care training across public agencies and programs in the County of San Luis Obispo. The training program offers knowledge, principles and tools to better help customer-service facing staff serve community members experiencing trauma, chronic stress, or mental illness.

Driving Under the Influence Programs

Drug and Alcohol Services is a Licensed Driving Under the Influence Provider. Drug and Alcohol Services provides quality, professional, and confidential services for those in need of fulfilling requirements stemming from penalties surrounding driving under the influence. Services include education, groups, and individual sessions with certified counselors. Our friendly staff will help you through the process of completing your program. 

All Program DUI Flyer. (En Español aqui)

Drug & Alcohol Services Fees

This service provides a Notice of Fee Changes that are effective for FY 2021 - 2022.

Drug & Alcohol Services Residential Programs

Drug and Alcohol Services provides Recovery Residence/Residential placement of adults in higher-levels of care. These clients have been assessed as needing these highly structured Recovery Residence/Residential sober environments. These gender-specific, sober living environments create a structured and nurturing environment which foster a safe place to live, treatment (only in Residential) and  the peer-to-peer concept of recovery principles. 

Drug & Alcohol Services Walk In Clinics

Screening is the first step for anyone who is seeking drug and alcohol treatment or evaluation through Drug and Alcohol Services. The public is welcome to walk in and request services. We offer treatment for voluntary as well as mandated clients. After completing a screening to determine if treatment is medically necessary, a full assessment for placement in treatment is scheduled and a plan for treatment is developed between the individual seeking help and the counselor.

Youth clients can be screened in Drug & Alcohol Services locations as well as at the Prevention & Outreach offices at 277 South St., Ste. T, in San Luis Obispo.

Drug Free Communities 101

This federal grant is aimed at providing Cal Poly and Cuesta College campuses and their surrounding communities with prevention strategies to address underage drinking – specifically for youth transitioning from high school to college - and reduce prescription drug misuse and abuse.

Drug Medi-Cal Outpatient Delivery System (ODS)

The County of San Luis Obispo Health Agency, Behavioral Health Department is currently the primary Drug Medi-Cal certified provider in the County.

Friday Night Live/Club Live/Cal Poly FNL

Program Update

Updated March 19, 2020 at 1:00pm

To help reduce the spread of COVID-19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the cancellation or postponement of all events and gatherings of 50 or more people over the next eight weeks. As a result, the County of SLO Behavioral Health Department is postponing all in-person trainings and events. This includes all SLO County Friday Night Live programming, including chapter meetings, events, and Board meetings. Thank you for your understanding at this time!

Please visit our website for updates, activities you can do indoors, and tips for managing stress and anxiety: and connect with us on our social media pages at slo.fnl on Facebook and Instagram for daily updates, resources, and activities.


Health Agency Contractor and Network Provider Support Page

This is a resource page for contractors and network providers of the County of San Luis Obispo Health Agency.  The contents of this page will help support compliance with HIPAA and other contractual and legal obligations.  For questions about how to use this page, please contact David Michels, Compliance Officer at (805) 781-4788.

Homeless Outreach Full Service Partnership

San Luis Obispo County’s Full Service Partnership for homeless individuals is a Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) program that provides outreach, assessment, and 24/7 intensive community-based wrap around services to help people achieve recovery and live independently.

Access to mental health services is the primary barrier to serving the homeless and this program focuses on outreach to unserved, difficult-to-reach populations. This will engage clients in health care, mental health treatment, and housing.

Services include:
  • Supportive care, case management, and rehabilitative mental health services.
  • Regular appointments with psychiatrists.
  • Regular access to medical services.
  • Highly individualized treatment, medication and personal milestones.
  • Support groups addressing other medical issues requiring maintenance and medication.
  • The development of independent living skills, including cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, conflict resolution, money management, and social skills.
  • Co-occurring disorder support groups for clients who also have problems with substance abuse.
  • Vocational and educational opportunities.

For more information please contact our access line at 1 (800) 838-1381

The program is conducted by Transitions-Mental Health Association.

Innovation (INN)

Implemented in 2011, the San Luis Obispo County's Innovation (INN) component gives our County a unique opportunity to work with the communities to develop new, best mental health practices. Innovation projects are designed mainly to contribute to learning, rather than simply providing a service and all projects must be new and creative and have not been duplicated in another community. Innovation projects are similar to pilot or demonstration projects and all are subject to time limitations to assess and evaluate their efficacy.

Intensive Care Coordination (ICC)

What is this service: 
Intensive Care Coordination (ICC) is similar to Targeted Case Management (TCM) and includes components such as facilitating assessment, care planning and coordination of services, including urgent services for children or youth. ICC is delivered using a Child and Family Team and is intended for children or youth whose treatment requires cross-agency collaboration.

Intensive Day Treatment Services

What is this service:
Services are provided at two (2) sites in San Luis Obispo in collaboration with the County Office of Education.  Chris Jespersen Elementary School (Elementary and Junior High) and Vicente School (Junior High and High School). 

Intensive Home Based Services (IHBS)

Intensive Home Based Services (IHBS) are individualized, strength-based interventions to address mental health conditions that interfere with a child or youth’s functioning. IHBS help the child or youth build skills necessary for successful functioning in the home, community and school.

Jail-Based Services

Drug & Alcohol provides an array of jail based services for those that are incarcerated in San Luis Obispo County Jail. These services include Metal Health and Substance Use Disorder screening, assessment, and diagnosis. Based on the assessment, individuals may be eligible for Pre-Release Treatment Services which include; individual and group involvement, psychological services, and/or medication management. The main purpose of these services is to link the individual with the re-entry services and facilitate a seamless handoff to Post Release Treatment Services (PRTS).

Justice Services Treatment

The co-occuring services in the Justice Services division provide court mandated treatment to adults (18 years and older) who are experiencing mental health and/or substance use disorders. 

Mandated treatment court services include:

  • Screening
  • Assessment
  • Treatment Planning
  • Psychotherapy
  • Medication Services
  • Psychiatry
  • Case Management

Other programs include:

Katie A Intensive Team

What is this service:
The Katie A intensive team provides wraparound-like, intensive, community based mental health services and supports to children, youth and transitional age youth in the Child Welfare Services system. The therapist and rehabilitation specialist work as a team to provide services that are driven by the Child and Family Team and include the full array of mental health services as well as, Intensive Care Coordination and Intensive Home Based Services

Latino Outreach Program

One of the first programs funded through the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA), this service provides a full array of mental health services in the community that are culturally appropriate for both Latino adults and children/youth.  

Therapists in the program are Bilingual/Bicultural and work to increase access to mental health care for monolingual Latinos and to eliminate the stigma associated with mental illness and treatment amongst the Latino population.

Please phone 1 (800) 838-1381 for information or to schedule an appointment.

Martha’s Place Children's Center

Martha's Place Children’s Center provides multidisciplinary assessment, individual and family therapy to children birth to five (5).  Youth may receive a mental health assessment and /or a specialized pediatric assessment depending on their specific needs. Case management services are provided to connect families with resources and some medication management is provided by the pediatrician.

Services can be accessed by calling Martha’s Place: (805) 781-4948.

Martha's Place Referral Form

Remisión de Martha’s Place

Medication Assisted Treatment

This service provides Medication Assisted Treatment for those suffering from opiate use disorders. Opiates include heroin, morphine, oxycontin, and other narcotic pain killers. Medication Assisted Treatment is also available for those suffering from alcohol use disorders, and involves the use of medications to decrease cravings, decrease side effects of withdrawal, and to provide improved motivation to abstain from substances.

Mental Health Diversion Court (MHDC)

The San Luis Obispo mental health diversion court is a pre-plea program that is designed to educate and promote the understanding of healing and wellness by providing an integrated treatment program. This program addresses the impact of mental health as well as substance abuse issues on the individual, family, and community by providing intensive outpatient treatment to support and encourage the client to make permanent healthy and positive changes by establishing a recovery-based lifestyle. 

Who can use this service?

Individuals who are interested in this pre-plea program should have their attorney request Mental Health Diversion (MHDC) at their court hearing. The court will request a screening for the program and a judge will make determination if an individual meets the criteria. 

Mental Health Evaluation Team (MHET)

The Mental Health Evaluation Team (MHET) assists the community, hospitals, and law enforcement with:

  • Emergency psychiatric evaluation services to determine whether immediate inpatient psychiatric treatment is required;
  • Crisis intervention services and mental health consultations;
  • Improving access to mental health treatment services through linkage and/or referral to community services; and
  • Timely post-crisis follow up to ensure linkage to appropriate resources.


The County has partnered with Sierra Mental Wellness Group as its provider of MHET services. Interventions are client oriented, and wellness and recovery-centered, to maximize the ability of the individual to manage the crisis. Additionally, this immediate stabilization response is supplemented with a next day follow-up for non-hospitalized clients to continue support and provide assistance in following through with referrals and appointments.

Mental Health First Aid

Mental Health First Aid is an 8-hour course that teaches you how to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illnesses and substance use disorders. The training gives you the skills you need to reach out and provide initial help and support to someone who may be developing a mental health or substance use problem or experiencing a crisis.

Mental Health Services Act (MHSA)

Click here to see What's New!

Trainings, Meetings, and Events Announcement

To help reduce the spread of COVID-19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the cancellation or postponement of all events and gatherings of 50 or more people over the next eight weeks. As a result, Behavioral Health is postponing all in-person trainings and events. Committee meetings may be subject to telecommunication. Committee meeting adjustments will be communicated to attendees by their program coordinators. Thank you for your understanding at this time!

The passage of Proposition 63 (now known as the Mental Health Services Act or MHSA) in November 2004, provides the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) increased funding, personnel and other resources to support county mental health programs and monitor progress toward statewide goals for mental health. 

Mental Health Services at the Juvenile Hall

Mental Health Therapists provide a mental health screening, risk assessment, crisis intervention and elective mental health services to all youth admitted into the Juvenile Hall. For youth at the Juvenile Hall that are in need of ongoing mental health services Mental Health Therapists may also provide assessment, therapy, rehabilitation services, and referrals for community services. A Psychiatrist from Mental Health provides medication and evaluation and monitoring once a week.


Mental Health Services in Therapeutic Learning Classrooms

Mental Health Youth Services therapists provide a full array of school-linked mental health services to several Therapeutic Learning Classrooms in San Luis Obispo County.

The therapist collaborates with teachers, school principals, parents, student study teams, individualized education plan teams, school psychologists, and other agencies as needed in developing individual treatment plans for these children.

Middle School Comprehensive Program

The Middle School Comprehensive project is an integrated collaboration between the Behavioral Health Department, schools, and community based organizations. This program aims to promote emotional wellness and identify students that may be in need of helping services.

Narcotic Treatment Program (NTP)

This service provides a program with AEGIS methadone clinic for replacement therapy. This includes access to medication such as methadone and buprenorphine (Suboxone). AEGIS utilizes an evidence-based, multi-disciplinary and holistic treatment model to treat clients.

For more information, call (805) 461-5212 or go to


Network Provider Resources

Network Providers are licensed providers with private practices in the community who contract with Behavioral Health to serve Medi-Cal beneficiaries. 

For information about becoming a Network Provider, open the Application Information folder.

Current Network Providers may access blank forms and training materials in the Documentation Forms and Resources Folder.

Older Adult Full Service Partnership (FSP)

The Older Adult Full Services Partnership (FSP) provides an intensive intervention team for older adults (age 60+) with a serious mental illness. FSP programs provide a "whatever it takes" approach to promoting and encouraging wellness for enrolled FSP clients. FSP programs are funded by the Mental Health Services Act.

Older Adult Mental Health Project

With the support of Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) funding, Wilshire Community Service, Inc. provides multi-level services for seniors at risk for mental illness.

Opioid Safety Coalition

The County formed the SLO Opioid Safety Coalition in January 2016 to address the local epidemic of opioid (painkiller medication and heroin) misuse with grant funding from the California HealthCare Foundation. The Department received one of 12 grants from the California HealthCare Foundation to help address the opioid epidemic locally.

Parent Education and Support Programs

With the support of Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) funding, the Center for Family Strengthening provides coordination of parenting resources, parent education classes, and parent coaching services.
This includes provision of bilingual and bicultural parenting classes.

Perinatal Outpatient Extended Group (POEG)

Perinatal Outpatient Extended Group (POEG) is an intensive outpatient treatment program designed to provide a safe, positive, structured drug and alcohol free learning environment with focus on the family as a unit. POEG meets four days a week, three hours a day. 

Services include:

  • Individual and family group process
  • Play therapy
  • Parent support and education group.

Positive Development Program

With the support of Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) funding, the Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo County (CAPSLO) provides side by side facilitation of a Pre-K life skills curricula and behavior assessment tools for private daycares and preschools throughout the county.


Prevention and Early Intervention (PEI)

Implemented in 2008, the County of San Luis Obispo's Prevention and Early Intervention (PEI)programs include outreach and education; efforts to increase access to under served populations; improved linkage and referrals at the earliest possible onset of mental illness; and the reduction of stigma and discrimination. Prevention involves increasing protective factors and diminishing an individual's risk factors for developing mental illness. Mental health and wellness are improved by helping individuals cope with risk factors and develop stronger protective factors. Early Intervention programs are intended to prevent mental illness from becoming severe, and reduce the duration of untreated severe mental illness, allowing people to live fulfilling, productive lives.

Psychiatric Health Facility (Inpatient)

The Behavioral Health Department operates a 16-bed, licensed Psychiatric Health Facility (PHF). The PHF provides observation and treatment for acute mental illness under licensed psychiatric direction.

1 (800) 838-1381 
Psychiatric crisis emergency number available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
The Psychiatric Health Facility (PHF) is an inpatient facility that treats individuals in psychiatric crisis who cannot be safely served in outpatient services. 

  • A psychiatric crisis is a non-life threatening situation in which an individual is exhibiting extreme mental health symptoms, considering harm to self or others, disoriented or out of touch with reality and has a compromised ability to function safely.

The PHF is operated by the County under a license issued and regulated by the State Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) as a facility for:

  • 72 hours of psychiatric evaluation and treatment.

Patients have a right to refuse medication unless there is a court order for medication or the patient is displaying imminently dangerous behavior toward self or others, and the doctor orders involuntary medication (W&I code 5325.2).

There are subsequent fourteen (14) day legal holds that may be enacted if the individual continues to meet medical necessity criteria. All additional holds require judicial review. Patients have rights and are provided legal representation by the Public Defenders Office. Patients also have access to a Patients’ Rights Advocate.
The PHF is staffed by a Behavioral Health Program Supervisor, an RN Nursing Supervisor, Psychiatrists, Registered Nurses, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Psychiatric Technicians, Vocational Nurses, and Behavioral Health Workers. Contracted services include Primary Care Physicians, Nurse Practitioners, Rehabilitation Services, and Dietary Services.
The PHF is licensed to treat 16 patients at any point in time.  The PHF serves:

  • Individuals who, per Welfare &Institutions Code 5150, may be involuntarily detained due to indications they are, as a result of a mental disorder, a danger to self, danger to others, or may be gravely mentally disabled
  • Misdemeanants in custody of the County jail, determined by the Court to be incompetent to stand trial (per Penal Code 1370).  Inmates are treated at the PHF to restore them to competency, in order for them to participate in their legal proceedings.
  • Conserved individuals (gravely mentally disabled and permanently housed elsewhere) in need of stabilization.

The PHF is the only such facility within San Luis Obispo County. The nearest alternative 5150 facilities are located in Salinas, Santa Barbara, and Fresno/Bakersfield, and are often also at or near their licensed capacity. Approximately 340 individuals are transferred directly from our area hospitals to out-of-County alternative inpatient psychiatric treatment facilities every year.
PHF admission criteria is set forth in the Welfare & Institutions Code 5150, and California Code of Regulations, Title 22. Individuals are assessed by qualified professionals for admission. 
Admission criteria includes:
As a result of a mental disorder*, the individual is deemed to be:

  1. A danger to Self,
  2. A danger to Others,
  3. Gravely Disabled (no ability to nourish oneself, obtain clothing or shelter, no third party caregiver).(Welfare & Institutions Code 5150)

 *mental health conditions covered by CCR Title IX 1820.205

It is often important that individuals receive a medical clearance prior to receiving a mental health evaluation for inpatient psychiatric treatment for the following reasons:

  • The PHF is free standing, with no medical support attached. 
  • Medical support is provided by local hospitals.

The following regulatory criteria describe persons who may not be legally retained in the PHF:

  1. Only persons diagnosed with major mental disorders are to be treated in PHFs.
  2. PHF shall not admit and treat patients with the primary diagnosis of an eating disorder.
  3. PHF shall not admit and treat patients when the primary diagnosis is chemical dependency, chemical intoxication or chemical withdrawal.
  4. Individuals with major mental disorders shall not be admitted to PHF if their treatment requires medical interventions beyond the level appropriate to a psychiatric health facility including:
    • Detoxification from substance abuse
    • Treatment for substance induced delirium. (22 CCR 77113)

Persons with a communicable disease that is required to be reported (per 17 CCR 2500), shall not be admitted to the facility. Examples are active treatment resistant infections (MRSA), Tuberculosis, etc.
A facility shall accept and retain only those patients for whom it can provide adequate medical care.  

“…when a patient’s particular injury or disease would ordinarily be treated on an outpatient basis absent the mental disorder, the facility may admit the patient only if the facility has appropriate policies, procedures and resources to ensure the safety of other patients and staff.”

Examples of such medical conditions are some types of Diabetes, and patients requiring supplemental oxygen, dementia, and Alzheimer’s.
(22 CCR  77135)
The law precludes the PHF from housing patients who are non-ambulatory, meaning they are unable to transfer their own weight.
(Health & Safety Code Section 1275.1)

Patients who are voluntarily or involuntarily admitted to the PHF for psychiatric evaluation or treatment may have visitors during regularly schedule visiting hours (6:30pm - 8:00pm). All visitors must be 18 years of age or older. No outside food or drinks are allowed. For more information on visiting the PHF, please see our PHF Visitors Policy.

The Psychiatric Health Facility Program Supervisor can be reached at (805) 781-4752
The Patients’ Rights Advocate can be reached at (805) 781-4738

Quality Support Team

The Quality Support Team (QST) performs a variety of tasks designed to measure and improve the quality of services provided by Behavioral Health. We monitor access and outcome information and work in collaboration with the state Department of Health Care Services to ensure that SLO residents obtain needed mental health and substance use disorder treatment.

Recovery Support Services

Recovery Support Services is provided to individuals upon completion of their treatment episode. We continue to provide care management, support, and guidance to ease the participant’s transition back into their community. This allows individuals to continue with minimal treatment services while participating in peer-to-peer support services as well as in existing Alumni groups.

Residential Wellness Counseling Program

This Federally funded grant program is aimed at providing local college campuses with early intervention resources to address students at risk of or experiencing First Episode Psychosis (FEP).

Rural Community Youth & Family Outreach

Funded through local Preventive Health Grants, these programs provide outreach to youth and families in the rural regions of the county and focus on Latino students and families.

Services Affirming Family Empowerment (SAFE)

SAFE teams convene in four areas of the county: North, Coast, San Luis Obispo, and Arroyo Grande  to provide various levels of service and provide multi-agency collaboration and coordination to seriously emotionally disturbed children and their families. 

Student Support Counseling

The Behavioral Health Department's Prevention and Outreach division provides student support counseling services at schools throughout the County. Referrals into the program are made directly through the school. See the list of participating schools below for more information.

Successful Launch

With the support of Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) funding, Cuesta College provides high risk transitional aged youth (TAY) with supportive life-skill services intended to facilitate self-sufficiency and independent living - critical to successful early adulthood.

Suicide Prevention

The Suicide Prevention Program oversees organized County activities to prevent suicide as a consequence of mental illness. Programs include public and targeted information campaigns, suicide prevention hotlines, training, and education. The program also leads the Suicide Prevention Council meetings, hosts annual forums, and works close with community partners to better inform equitable suicide prevention efforts.


2021 Suicide Prevention Forum:

The Suicide Prevention Forum was hosted in partnership by County Behavioral Health and Transitions-Mental Health Association September 29, 2021. The forum speaker, Kelechi Ubozoh, is a mental health advocate, writer, and suicide attempt survivor.Watch below as Kelechi deliver's a storytelling forum on "How My Friends Showed Up: Support During a Mental Health Crisis"  exploring her own personal story and sharing how community members can show up for someone in a crisis.

San Luis Obispo County Suicide Prevention Strategic Plan 2021: 

San Luis Obispo County’s Suicide Prevention Strategic Plan is the result of community engagement and planning from various stakeholders. The plan lays out strategic aims, goals, and objectives to address suicide and ensure prevention, intervention, and postvention approaches are established countywide. This document also includes various local, state, and national resources as part of prevention activities. Primarily, the Suicide Prevention Strategic Plan provides a roadmap with clear goal and objective development to build upon successful engagement processes and expand suicide prevention efforts. Read the 2021 plan now. 

Therapeutic Behavioral Services

What is this service:
Therapeutic Behavioral Services (TBS) are designed to help children or youth and their parents/caregivers (when available) manage behaviors utilizing short-term, behavioral interventions targeting measurable goals that are based on the child or youth and family’s needs.

Trainings and Events

Trainings, Meetings, and Events Announcement

To help reduce the spread of COVID-19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the cancellation or postponement of all events and gatherings of 50 or more people over the next eight weeks. As a result, Behavioral Health is postponing all in-person trainings and events. Thank you for your understanding at this time!



Transitional Aged Youth (TAY) Full Service Partnership

The Transitional Age Youth Full Service Partnership program serves youth between the ages of 16-25 of all races and ethnicities. Young adults served include those with serious emotional disturbances/serious mental illness and a chronic history of psychiatric hospitalizations; law enforcement involvement; co-occurring disorders.

Treatment Courts (ATCC)

An intensive outpatient behavioral health program that meets the clients' need for substance abuse treatment, mental health wellness, and reduction of traumatic symptoms. 

Using evidence-based recovery classes in conjunction with effective ancillary programs, ATCC provides clients with a holistic treatment model to fit their unique and individual needs. 

Who can use this service?

Anyone can use this service who has a substance use disorder and criminal justice involvement that is in need of assistance. Program participants must have a substance use disorder and mild to moderate mental health disorder. Participants must be 18 years of age and on formal probation with a minimum of a year left on probation. 

Veterans Outreach

Trainings, Meetings, and Events Announcement

To help reduce the spread of COVID-19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the cancellation or postponement of all events and gatherings of 50 or more people over the next eight weeks. As a result, Behavioral Health is postponing all in-person trainings and events. Thank you for your understanding at this time!


The Veteran’s Outreach Program provides increased outreach and access to mental health services for veterans, by providing rehabilitative activities and counseling services. The County hosts various physical, rehabilitative activities for veterans and their families throughout the year in various locations. Events are open to all veterans or active military members in San Luis Obispo County. Family members or guests of veterans or active military members may accompany when appropriate.

Please see the calendar below for upcoming events. You may click on an event to see view details such as the event flyer and registration.

Veterans Treatment Services

The Behavioral Health Department's Veterans Mental Health Therapist provides individual and group therapy services for veterans and their family members. The therapist is housed at the Veterans Service Office in San Luis Obispo, a culturally competent environment for veterans and their families to seek support and engage in behavioral health services, and also offers services to participants of Veterans Treatment Court.

Services may include:

  • Screening, Assessment and Treatment Recommendations
  • Treatment Planning
  • Individual and Group Psychotherapy
  • Access to Psychiatry and Medication services
  • Resource and referral to Veterans benefits services

Please call (805) 748-2403 for more information or to schedule an appointment.

The Veterans Treatment Program is part of the Mental Health Services Act plan, and provided by the Behavioral Health Department. For more information on Veterans services and benefits, please visit the County's Veterans Services Office page.

Wellness Advocates

Transitions Mental Health Association (TMHA) provides advocates to link people referred from PEI projects in need of social supports and basic needs

Withdrawal Management - Detox

Drug and Alcohol provides interventions aimed at managing acute withdrawal as part of caring for substance-related disorders, including: Evaluation, Stabilization of the patient, often with the use of medications, and Fostering support for recovery.

Withdrawal Management services are for alcohol withdrawal treatment, opiate withdrawal treatment, and methamphetamine withdrawal support.

Wraparound Services

Wraparound services are based on a “whatever it takes model.”  Services are individualized, strength based and the family and youth/child perspectives are intentionally elicited and prioritized during all phases of the Wraparound process.     

Youth & Family Substance Use Treatment

A full array of outpatient treatment services, including those that require family involvement, such as group counseling, family counseling, multi-family groups, and individual youth counseling for adolescents with substance use disorders (SUD).

Services include:

  • Case Management
  • Drug Testing
  • Psychotherapy
  • Screening and Assessment
  • Treatment Planning
  • Walk-In Clinics (see this page for locations and times)

Other programs include:

Youth Group Home/Residential Mental Health Services

The Behavioral Health Department provides mental health services to youth who have been placed in residential treatment facilities or group homes in or out of county by the following agencies:

  1. Department of Social Services;
  2. Probation Department;
  3. School Districts, as part of an Individual Education Plan (IEP).

Youth Mental Health Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient services include a wide variety of services to children and youth, typically aged 0-18, in the community.  
Please contact our access line at 1 (800) 838-1381 for information or to schedule an appointment. All services are available in Spanish.

Staff focus on the best practice of partnering with the family in the development of a treatment plan that is: needs driven, strength based, solution focused, and identifies and builds on participant and family strengths. 

Our goal is instilling hope and optimism to assist children and families in developing mastery over their own lives so that they can stay together in their homes, school and community.

Services include:

  • Assessment
  • Treatment Planning
  • Psychotherapy
  • Rehabilitation Services
  • Crisis Intervention
  • Medication Monitoring
  • Psychiatry
  • Case Management

Other programs include: