A comprehensive review of county-funded mental health programs helped Santa Clara County, California, better understand the services offered across its continuum of care. Building a foundation of evidence helps the county monitor program fidelity – that is, the degree to which a program adheres to its research-based design.
In 2019, Santa Clara County’s Behavioral Health Services Department (BHSD) partnered with The Pew Charitable Trusts’ Results First initiative to assess the evidence base of interventions offered in outpatient settings for adults with mental health issues. Although BHSD was already making data-driven decisions, it hoped to take this work a step further to ensure that the right services were being delivered in the right amount to the right population.
So the department compiled a program inventory, a catalog of programs it funds in county clinics and through contracted community providers. From the start, BHSD intentionally made this process collaborative.
“Relationships with providers [in] Santa Clara County are … critical, [given that] many of our programs and services are contracted out. … As such, buy-in and full engagement with all stakeholders around the potential value of this project … was important to achieve the desired outcome,” said Todd Landreneau, director of adult and older adult services at BHSD.
One of the first steps was to map the programs being offered across the department’s continuum of care, which contains several levels of services ranging from less intensive (such as case management for adults with mental health barriers to employment) to most intensive (inpatient treatment for psychiatric disorders). BHSD asked community providers to identify discrete interventions they offered their clients.