Mental Health: Orange County Expands Crisis Stabilization Units

Orange County is providing support to patients and families struggling with a mental health crisis.

On Tuesday, the Orange County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a dozen new spaces at College Hospital’s Crisis Stabilization Unit for involuntary detention, evaluation, and treatment. The facility is in addition to 15 spaces at the county-run crisis stabilization unit in Santa Ana.

“Making sure that our hospitals are provided with the best tools to care for patients that are suffering from mental health disorders while awaiting treatment is of the utmost importance for Orange County health facilities,” said Michelle Steel, Chairwoman of the Orange County Board of Supervisors.

The 24-hour Crisis Stabilization Units help patients experiencing mental health problems and are a part of the County’s overhauled mental health care system.

“We’re working to deliver patients with the care they need to manage a mental health crisis,” said Orange County Supervisor Andrew Do, Vice Chairman of the Orange County Board of Supervisors. “These new facilities help everyone in Orange County and take stress off our overburdened hospital emergency rooms.”

Designated Mental Facilities

In California, individuals who are a danger to themselves, to others, or gravely disabled due to a mental health disorder, may be placed in a facility designated by the county and approved by the Board and Department of Health Care Services. Such designated facilities provide mental health evaluation and treatment to individuals who are involuntarily detained.

“Crisis Stabilization Units provide patients with immediate access to life-saving support and vital mental health services,” said Supervisor Andrew Do.

College Hospital in Costa Mesa, a locked facility that sees clients who are admitted voluntarily, relies upon designation in order to accept individuals on involuntary holds. During today’s meeting, the Board directed the OC Health Care Agency to submit the designation of College Hospital Crisis Stabilization Unit to the Department of Health Care Services for approval.

“Providing mental health evaluation and treatment to individuals who are involuntarily detained helps them quickly access the appropriate level of care they need,” said Supervisor Michelle Steel, whose Second District includes Costa Mesa. “This facility will be a big help for caring for our homeless population who are all too often suffering from mental health disorders.”

Crisis Stabilization Units in Orange County

Last March, the Board of Supervisors approved a three-year, $13.3 million contract, for the creation of a Crisis Stabilization Unit at College Hospital that would add 12 crisis stabilization chairs, serving clients year-round at an average of 18 people per day. These recliners are in addition to the already existing 15 recliners at a county facility in Santa Ana.

In FY 2018-19, the county Crisis Stabilization Unit treated approximately 2,700 individuals with 83 percent involuntary and 17 percent voluntary individuals. Similar ratios are expected at College Hospital.

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Orange County Chairwoman Michelle Steel represents the Second District communities of Costa Mesa, Cypress, Huntington Beach, La Palma, Los Alamitos, Newport Beach, Seal Beach, Stanton, the unincorporated area of Rossmoor, and portions of Buena Park and Fountain Valley. Steel, a successful businesswoman, and renowned taxpayer advocate, previously served as Vice Chair of the State Board of Equalization.

Orange County Vice Chairman Andrew Do represents the First District communities of Santa Ana, Garden Grove, Westminster, Fountain Valley, and Midway City. In his second term, Vice Chairman Do has reformed Orange County’s mental health services, expanded access to health care, and led efforts to combat homelessness.