Economic Outlook Remains Positive, But Homeless Numbers Increase.
Time to Update the Mental Health Services Act
November 23, 2015
Last week two very important sets of numbers were released showing the disconnect between a healthy economy and the status of people who need behavioral health services.
The state’s Legislative Analyst presented an updated state budget forecast showing that state revenues will exceed the budget estimates by $3.5 billion for this year, a growing surplus for next year and for the next several years.
This is consistent with trends in reports we have provided showing significantly increased revenues for county behavioral health authorities. However, as we have reported in the past these revenue increases have not translated into expansion of services in very many counties. We noted that most counties had discontinued homeless outreach services during the recession and very few had restarted them in spite of two very good years of revenue growth with more forecast for next year.
That pattern is now reinforced by new homeless data showing that homeless numbers in California had risen over the past few years and we know that most of the homeless have significant behavioral health challenges and that chronic homelessness is almost always due to an untreated behavioral health condition (usually co-occurring mental health and chemical dependency).