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Health

San Diego County Supervisors Approve More Funding For PERT

A San Diego County Sheriff's Department vehicle is parked in this undated photo.
Alexander Nguyen
A San Diego County Sheriff's Department vehicle is parked in this undated photo.

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved more money for the Psychiatric Emergency Response Team program and other mental health staff positions.

The county will spend an additional $600,000 to retain and increase the number of clinicians.

The board's vote was 4-0. Supervisor Greg Cox was absent from Tuesday's meeting because he was attending a regional chamber of commerce event.

A Psychiatric Emergency Response Team is made up of a licensed mental health clinician and a trained law enforcement officer who work to de-escalate a mental health emergency and if possible, redirect a person to mental health services, rather than a hospital or jail.

Board Chairwoman Dianne Jacob said Tuesday's action is just one piece of a bigger issue when it comes to treating the mentally ill.

"If we can't get this piece in place, then the system will fail," Jacob said, adding that one in three county jail inmates have mental health issues.

Luke Bergmann, county Behavioral Health director, said PERT is "truly a cornerstone of local crisis response."

Supervisor Nathan Fletcher added that a more robust PERT also alleviates the burden on first responders.