Mental Health is an Education Issue

There are currently no available psychiatric emergency beds for children in San Mateo County. There are some for adolescents, but if you're younger than 12, there are none.

Children do have psychiatric disability (aka mental health) diagnoses in our County and if and when there is a need to call 911 or visit an ER in a crisis situation, if the child needs to be hospitalized (usually pursuant to a 5150), the child is typically transported by ambulance to another County's facility when a bed opens up in these out-of-county hospitals... inĀ Fremont, Sacramento, Vallejo and a couple of other locations.

A visit to the ER, while often necessary for safety, is traumatic for a child, and he or she is often re-traumatized by the transport to another facility, sometimes more than a day after arriving at the ER, alone in an ambulance, to then await parent visits during hospital "visiting hours," which are fairly restrictive in psychiatric wards.

*Supporting kids with these types of disabilities is an education issue because these children are often students in our public schools who often have IEPs, 504 Plans or Educationally Related Mental Health Services [ERHMS] in place, or should have in place. ERMHS are the sole responsibility of school districts since 2011 under AB 114.

The lack of child psychiatric facilities in San Mateo County has been raised for a number of years by the San Mateo County Behavioral Health and Recovery Services (BHRS) Commission, under their oversight of Mental Health Service Act (MHSA) funds to implement programs and provide facilities in our County. The gap remains today, but I am hopeful that this issue can be prioritized soon, as health & education advocates continue to work together to ensure that adequate and appropriate mental health supports are available for kids in our County.

This is certainly one of my goals for collaboration and impact if I am elected to the San Mateo County Board of Education in 2020.

In the meantime, I am working to bring awareness of these needs as a member of the San Mateo County Commission on Disabilities (CoD), as Co-Chair of the CoD's Youth & Family Committee, as the CoD's liaison to the BHRS Commission, and as a parent of a child with a mental health disability who has been subject to the implications of our County's gap in facilities and services.

Yes, I want to connect with Chelsea!