One thing has become increasingly clear as Southern Arizona mourns the senseless tragedies, from Aurora to Newtown, that followed our own Jan. 8, 2011 tragedy:
There must be a stronger safety net for those in need of behavioral health services.
In spite of deep state funding cuts to behavioral health services, it is more important than ever that Pima County residents have access to a strong, responsive and efficient care system that addresses their needs.
Pima County does not directly deliver behavioral health services, but through the support of voters in this community, the County has made substantial investments in improving the accessibility and availability of behavioral health care.
There remains more to do.
Stigma remains a problem, preventing people from seeking the help they need for themselves or others they know.
More education needs to be done to share information on how to access the care that is available.
The County is committed to being part of the ongoing community dialogue about how to address these challenges.
As a first step in a renewed focus on bringing awareness to behavioral health, Pima County today launched a website – www.pima.gov/behavioralhealth – that can serve as a resource for those seeking information on where to turn for help.
The County also will host a community panel in the spring to continue the conversation, with a focus on crisis services. We will continue to look for more opportunities throughout the year to further the discussion.
The County’s investments in behavioral health care include funding the construction of two crisis intervention and treatment facilities that work in tandem to assure there is “no wrong door” when individuals are experiencing a behavioral health crisis.
TheCrisisResponseCenterand the Behavioral Health Pavilion opened as a “one stop” triage, stabilization and treatment center in August 2011 afterPimaCountyvoters overwhelmingly approved $66 million in bond initiatives to build a more cohesive approach in the delivery of behavioral health care.
The new system relieves some of the burden from hospital emergency rooms. It also provides law enforcement officers with a resource that allows them to get back to their jobs quickly, while ensuring the safety of those in crisis.
For more information about upcoming announcements, stay posted to our website, www.pima.gov/behavioralhealth, which will reflect updated information when it becomes available.