San Francisco lawmakers propose free mental healthcare for city residents

San Francisco city officials have proposed a free universal mental healthcare plan for its residents, USA Today reports.

Board of supervisors members Hillary Ronen and Matt Haney unveiled the plan, dubbed Mental Health SF, during a June 4 board meeting. It includes treatment for substance abuse disorder and a 24/7 treatment center offering services from counseling to emergency care.

A 2016 survey by the San Francisco Health Improvement Partnership shows that the lower-income population in the city was 2.5 times more likely to report suffering psychological distress compared to high-income residents. With only 2,000 beds in the city's current mental healthcare system, many residents who need care for mental illness are left to fend for themselves.

Ms. Ronen told USA Today that although the city's mental healthcare and substance use disorder services include more than 300 programs and cost $370 million a year, they're not well coordinated with each other.

Mental Health SF focuses on improving care coordination. The treatment center will include office space for social workers and case managers to work together, and patients in the city's existing programs will receive personalized treatment plans. New services will be added.

For the plan to move forward, six of 11 board of supervisors members would have to vote in favor, and it would have to be signed by the mayor. It then would qualify for inclusion on the November ballot.

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