San Benito Mental Health Care and Patients’ Rights


San Benito Mental Health Care and Patients’ Rights

On February 26, 2021, Disability Rights California and San Benito County reached a comprehensive settlement agreement that not only addresses the rights of individuals placed on an involuntary psychiatric hold pursuant to California Welfare and Institutions Code § 5150 (“5150”) but also expands the resources and services available to assist individuals experiencing a mental health crisis in the home and/or community.

Based on the expert’s findings and recommendations, the final settlement includes structural and personnel changes, an expansion of SBCBH services in the home and community, updates to SBCBH policies and procedures, and improves training and collaboration with other agencies.

Some important highlights from the settlement include:

  • The County will continue using a Crisis Hot-Line and implement a Crisis Response Team (CRT) to respond to the needs of individuals experiencing a mental health crisis in the home, workplace, or other community-based location in a timely manner.
  • SBCBH will work towards conducting mental health assessments at a client’s place of residence or in a clinical setting, whenever possible, within six months.
  • The County has contracted for crisis residential services for adults, children, and youth.
  • The County will provide a community-based space where individuals in crisis may go if they could benefit from a calm environment supported by peers, as available (“Warm Room”).
  • The County will work on expanding supportive housing for individuals in need of mental health services.
  • The County will continue to work collaboratively with the San Benito County Jail staff to ensure that individuals receiving mental health services released from San Benito County Jail have documented discharge planning, continuity of medications, and appropriate follow-up appointments with providers.

The agreement also recognizes that Section 5150 provides for detention for up to 72 hours only and that all possible steps will be taken to either safely release a 5150 hold, or transfer an individual to an LPS designated facility when a bed is available or alternative placement prior to the expiration of 72 hours.

This agreement followed litigation in Disability Rights California v. County of San Benito, 4:19-cv-01833-YGR (N.D. Cal.), after which the parties entered into structured negotiations in lieu of additional litigation.

Significant Documents

Press Coverage