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TMHA and SLO County Health Agency Release New Analisys: Strengthening the System of Adult Behavioral Healthcare

TMHA and SLO County Health Agency Release New Analysis: Strengthening the System of Adult Behavioral Healthcare

Author: Tom Cuddy, Health Agency Public Information Officer
Date: 8/10/2023 11:10:13 AM

TMHA and SLO County Health Agency Release New Analisys: Strengthening the System of Adult Behavioral Health.

San Luis Obispo, CA—The County of San Luis Obispo Health Agency and Transitions-Mental Health Association today released a new report that they jointly commissioned from Capstone Solutions Consulting Group that examines the current state of adult behavioral health care and provides recommendations on how to improve the delivery of adult mental health and substance use disorder treatment services in San Luis Obispo County.

"This report is an important first step in making our behavioral health programs stronger,” said County of San Luis Obispo Supervisor Bruce Gibson. “It gives us a clearer picture of how we're doing over the entire spectrum of crucial services our residents need."

The report, Strengthening the System of Adult Behavioral Healthcare in San Luis Obispo County, will serve as roadmap for the County of San Luis Obispo’s Behavioral Health Department, which will use the findings to develop a five-year strategic plan on how best to improve adult mental health care and service delivery to the County’s most vulnerable adult community members. The 53-page report looks at gaps in current care, areas for improvement and service expansion, as well as existing strengths upon which to build for future service delivery.

“This analysis offers a rich understanding of the behavioral health continuum of care within the County, illuminating strengths, weaknesses, and areas that our team can now concentrate its actions,” said Health Agency Director Nick Drews. “The report also points out the challenges we have been facing with significant workforce shortages that have been exacerbated the COVID-19 pandemic. We are focused on using the findings in this report as a catalyst for change and this analysis will serve as vital input as we act on the behavioral health needs of our community.”

A particular challenge was highlighted at the front of the report: the workforce shortage in the behavioral health field. As Capstone noted, “Competition over the insufficient supply of behavioral health professionals, cost of living in San Luis Obispo County, opportunities for virtual work and reluctance to return to in-person settings have contributed to a problem that significantly affects the ability of SLO Behavioral Health System to fulfill its mission.”

In acknowledging some of the strengths of the current system, the report highlighted the following:

  • Certain clinical programs, including full-service partnerships, are highly successful in meeting the full range of needs of highly vulnerable mental health clients.
  • Forensic mental health programs, including integrated field response teams and post-incarceration release services, are effective and show exceptional collaboration between law enforcement and mental health professionals.
  • Peer and family support services are exceptional both for the knowledge and dedication of staff and for their comprehensive support for individuals attempting to enter and navigate the mental health system.

The report cited specific limitations of Behavioral Health services in San Luis Obispo County, including:

  • The lack of residential treatment programs such as Crisis Residential Services and Enriched Residential Programs.
  • No partial hospitalization for substance use disorders.
  • Insufficient acute inpatient care for clients in mental health crises.
  • Limited housing options, including additional permanent supportive housing, adult residential facilities (e.g., board and care homes), and sober living programs.

“We hope the community responds to this overview with meaningful and beneficial solutions,” said Jill Bolster-White, Executive Director of Transitions-Mental Health Association. “Ultimately, it takes the entire system, including hospital and private providers, to make this work.”

Recommendations from the Capstone report were also made in the form of near-term, mid-term and long-term solutions.

Near-term solutions included recommendations to:

  • Redesign the Crisis Stabilization Unit as an Urgent Care Center.
  • Capitalize on new Peer Certification by adding new job classifications.
  • Expand integrated physical and mental health care through formal and informal partnerships with local health providers.

Long-term solutions included recommendations to:

  • Invest in a crisis residential treatment program.
  • Expand substance use services by developing a partial hospitalization program in existing outpatient programs.
  • Add an additional Psychiatric Health Facility (PHF) that should accept private insurance as well as Medi-Cal.

A full copy of the report and executive summary can be found here. The report is being shared with SLO County’s Board of Supervisors, all participating stakeholders, and local agencies and private businesses providing healthcare.

Transitions-Mental Health Association (TMHA) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating stigma and promoting recovery and wellness for people with mental illness through work, housing, community and family support services. We operate over 40 programs at locations throughout San Luis Obispo and North Santa Barbara counties. The emphasis of our innovative services is to teach vital independent living skills and help build a framework for community re-entry through personal empowerment and hands on experience. For over forty years, TMHA has been dedicated to providing work, housing, case management and life-skills support to teens and adults with mental illness while offering support, resources and education for their loved ones. For more information, visit

The Health Agency’s mission is to provide a broad array of services essential to the health and well-being of those living in and visiting San Luis Obispo County. Its vision is to ensure that our residents and visitors are healthy and have access to services essential to maintain optimal health. The Health Agency is comprised of the Behavioral Health Department, the Public Health Department, the Animal Services Division and the Office of the Public Guardian. It is the largest department in San Luis Obispo County Government with more than 800 employees and an annual operating budget of $150 million. For more information on the programs and services the Health Agency provides, visit

With unique services and exceptional talent, Capstone helps human service organizations (and whole communities) improve their performance and maximize social impact by providing the transformational tools and strategies needed to enhance operations and more effectively navigate and effect social change. Capstone brings together an exceptionally talented, highly experienced group of senior-level experts from the public sector, non-profit and for-profit entities, and the world of academia … all of whom are committed to applying their highly reputed skills and prior experience to those in need. For more information, visit