BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — The mental health professionals at Kern County Behavioral Health and Recovery Services have released their 3-year plan to provide different programs to people in need, such as early intervention, outreach, and education, among other services.
Coordinator Christina Rajlal explains the provisions of California’s Mental Health Services Act which this plan is designed to fit.
“The Mental Health Services Act came in as Proposition 63 in 2004, and it was enacted in 2005 after it passed with the voters. It is also known as the ‘millionaires’ tax’ in the state of California, which means that every millionaire that lives in the state of California gets a special tax, and all those taxes are pulled together at the state, and then they get drawn by a county depending on their size,” said Rajlal.
According to Rajlal, now that the plan is unveiled to address an array of community needs, the department is asking for public input within their 30-day comment period to continue with their goal of implementing new mental health programs to serve the county’s residents.
“We don’t make decisions in the Behavioral Health Department without our stakeholders at the table. Their voice is critically important,” said Rajlal. “If we are out in the community, there is all kinds of hot topics that the community is talking about. It might be homelessness, it might be substance abuse, or areas in which people see that people are really struggling, especially on the heels of the pandemic.”
The department says the services are dedicated to reducing or eliminating homelessness, incarceration, unemployment, suicide, school dropouts, and prolonged suffering due to mental illness.
“We have about 100 different programs throughout Kern Behavioral Health and Recovery Services, and in our geographical provider areas as well,” said Rajlal. “If you try to put that into perspective – like our crisis hotline. If somebody is in crisis or attempting to hurt themselves or someone else and they call that line, that line is funded by the Mental Health Services Act.”
But mental health programs aren’t the only things being addressed.
“The Mental Health Services Act actually funds 5 different areas, and one of those areas is called ‘WET,’ which stands for Workforce Education and Training,” said Rajlal. “It helps to offset our department’s need for training our staff, giving incentives to help staff retain their jobs here, and it also helps us to build our workforce pipeline. A lot of funding goes in to help us definitely look at our workforce and see what the needs are.”
If you would like to view and provide comment on the Mental Health Services Act, you may do so by visiting the MHSA public comment page at the KBHRS website.