15 As the County of Monterey Department of Health celebrates 100 years, the Behavioral Health Bureau is experiencing a time of exciting growth and development. Post-pandemic, the need for the bureau’s mental health and substance use disorder treatment services has increased as anxiety grows and resilience wanes. “Every individual living in Monterey County is directly affected by mental health and substance use conditions. I believe our communities are starting to accept the fact that sometimes someone needs medication for behavioral health, just as someone might need insulin for diabetes treatment,” Behavioral Health Bureau Chief Katy Eckert said. Eckert remembered hearing a memorable remark at a recent meeting of the California Department of Health Care Services, where someone stated statewide behavioral health initiatives “are now making up for decades worth of neglect.” “That is very true. There are uncountable numbers of complex policy changes being enacted right now and even more on the horizon,” Over the bureau’s history, the method of delivering behavioral health services has fundamentally changed. Instead of an office-based model using long-term hospitalizations, Behavioral Health shifted to community-based services and treatment. “We bring an understanding of the best ways to reach and serve individuals where they are at, in order to help individuals and the community be well,” Eckert said. The bureau performs their work through direct services or by contracting through partners, providing prevention and early intervention services and working closely with schools, law enforcement, social services, probation, the courts and other service providers. “Our community has a strong history of collaboration and Behavioral Health has been one of the leaders delivering services to the community,” Eckert said. “Behavioral Health also has a strong focus on equity, on serving the different populations within the county according to their needs, including their preferred languages.” The Behavioral Health bureau operates a $161 million department, employing 376 people in 22 locations throughout Monterey County. However, one common misconception of the Behavioral Health Department is its scope of services, explained Eckert. “The community at-large believes that County Behavioral Health serves everyone. The reality is County Behavioral Health primarily serves the Medi-Cal and indigent populations who have serious mental illness or serious emotional disturbance or substance use disorder,” said Eckert. “County Behavioral Health does not have the funding or staffing to take on the treatment needs of the entire low income population. It is the responsibility of health care insurers to provide mental health treatment for other individuals. Treatment is available!” 2000 Behavioral Health 1995 Ambulance services consolidate into one ambulance provider 1995 Seaside opens the county’s first clinic, with locations in Marina quickly following 2000s The Gold Seal program begins, a food safety recognition program for restaurants still used today We bring an understanding of the best ways to reach and serve individuals where they are at... – Katy Eckert, Behavioral Health Bureau Chief