Impacting society’s approach to serious mental illness.

Current Priorities

Our current focus is to advocate for streamlined access to treatment for severe mental illness in San Luis Obispo County and to support the County in fully implementing the Stepping Up Initiative, a national initiative to reduce the number of people with mental illnesses in jails. We accomplish this primarily through collaborative meetings with community leaders in which we discuss problems and brainstorm solutions addressing the gaps in our local system.

Crisis Intervention Training (CIT)

We are pleased to partner with the San Luis Obispo Sheriff’s Department in sponsoring CIT training classes in San Luis Obispo County as a tangible way to show support for the solutions offered. CIT gives police officers, and other first responders, additional tools to do their job safely and effectively. It keeps law enforcement’s focus on crime, and saves on cost.  It also reduces arrests of people with mental illness while simultaneously increasing the likelihood that those individuals will receive mental health services.

In addition, we are offering scholarships to police officers in financially impacted departments with the goal that all police officers in San Luis Obispo County receive the training. Please email us for information on applying.

Peer Support

Our peer support volunteers have lived experience coping with SMI or caring for a suffering loved one. Their empathic listening and customized referrals help dozens each year navigate our complicated local system, potentially saving lives. Request a peer support volunteer contact you; we will respond within 3 days.

Legal Defense Success

We are proud of the success of our past focus: assisting individuals with severe mental illness involved in the judicial system. We are no longer accepting new legal scholarship applicants and believe our current focus will decrease this need.

The Andrew Holland Foundation is grateful for the opportunity to help Montoya, now ordered into treatment at the State Department of Mental Hospitals and is encouraged by the collaborative work done in this case for the benefit of the community.

With our legal assistance, John’s three felonies became one misdemeanor; though his only real crime is suffering from a physical disease in the brain.  We are grateful he is now home with his family instead of in the state prison system.

Advocacy Success

Through a partnership with the Sheriff’s Department and the Sheriff’s Advisory Fund, we purchased phone minutes for SLO County jail inmates in need. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, jail visitation and programs have been suspended, some housing units have been quarantined, and there are fewer mood-boosting activities for patients. While measures must be taken to decrease the spread of COVID-19, they increase isolation which can worsen mental health symptoms. We are proud to help them remain connected with family and friends during this unprecedented time.

We have built a positive relationship and partnership with the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Department jail medical staff leadership.  We are honored by their willingness to work with us and improve our local system to better serve those suffering from SMI.  Just a few recent highlights include:

  • Previously, SLO County jail inmates released early through a Sheriff’s Honor Pass showed as “in-custody” in the public record look up, making it useless for loved ones trying to keep track of and help arrested SMI. At our request, the Sherriff’s Department immediately fixed this. Now loved ones, even those not directly involved in a release plans, can confidently locate SMI in custody, aiding safety and wellness.
  • Formerly, it was difficult for loved ones to communicate diagnosis, needed medication and suicide dangers to jail medical staff. Outdated technology and an impossible phone tree led to poor communication and dangerous health crises. The jail website now includes a phone extension to reach a live operator and a new smart form, in both English and Spanish; it is accessible, easy to submit and immediately sent to all medical staff. Loved ones are now sharing vital information on medications and conditions for SMI that medical staff can act upon, potentially saving lives.
  • Previously, inmate requests for medical care remained largely unanswered resulting in anxiety as patients waited, sometimes for weeks, not knowing when or if they would receive help. Now those requests are triaged and a response provided by the end of a shift. Both staff and inmates are happier with the new system as it cuts down on confusion, anxiety and redundant requests.