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Budget Allots $1 Billion for Mental Health : State Hospitals, Community Programs to Get Large Increases

January 11, 1986|JERRY GILLAM | Times Staff Writer

SACRAMENTO — Gov. George Deukmejian's proposed state budget contains nearly $1 billion for mental health, including substantial increases for state hospitals, community mental health programs and more staff to improve patient treatment.

The proposal earmarks $369 million for the state hospitals, up $66 million from the current level, and $607 million for community mental health services, a $34-million jump over this fiscal year.

Nearly $36.5 million is targeted for hospital building improvements, Dr. Michael O'Connor, director of the Department of Mental Health, said Friday.

Funds to Hire Staff

In addition, the hospitals would receive $2.9 million to hire 264 more staff members.

"We are committed to shattering the stereotype of warehousing patients in dormitory-like facilities and bringing greater privacy and dignity to patients in the hospitals," O'Connor told a press conference.

"The efforts to increase staffing, improve treatment programs and upgrade facilities in our state hospitals comprise a crucial element in the governor's plan to have all five hospitals for the mentally ill achieve national accreditation during 1987," he said.

In the mid-1970s, most state mental hospitals lost their accreditation because they were not properly staffed and were overcrowded and the hospital buildings were deteriorating. The Deukmejian Administration is attempting to regain accreditation with a five-year plan now in its third year.

Napa State Re-Accredited

Napa State Hospital recently was re-accredited by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Hospitals, a private nonprofit Chicago group.

Plans call for improvements at four other state mental hospitals--Metropolitan State Hospital in Los Angeles County, Camarillo Hospital in Ventura County, Patton State Hospital in San Bernardino County and Atasacadero State Hospital in San Luis Obispo County--to ensure accreditation before the end of next year, O'Connor said.

The budget includes $30 million for the treatment of mentally disordered offenders released from state prisons with chronic mental problems who must undergo treatment as a condition of parole. This program starts July 1 under a 1985 state law. It also includes $20 million earmarked for helping the homeless mentally ill, a program that was initiated in last year's budget.

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