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Folsom man takes commission seat, aims to reduce mental illness stigma

By From page A1 | July 24, 2013

Earlier this summer Gov. Jerry Brown announced the appointment of Folsom resident John Boyd to a three-year term on the California Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission.

The 16-member commission oversees services provided under the Mental Health Services Act. The act was created when voters approved Proposition 63 in November 2004.

The Mental Health Services Act addresses a longstanding problem. When California closed its state psychiatric hospitals in 1968, the funds saved were supposed to be directed to counties to provide community-based mental health services. The funding never materialized. Lacking treatment, many people became homeless or sentenced to prison.

In passing Proposition 63, voters approved providing mental health treatment, prevention and early intervention, education and training to Californians affected by mental illness.

Through Proposition 63, California voters approved funding the services by an annual one percent tax on incomes exceeding $1 million.

The commission oversees the Adults and Older Adults Systems of Care Act, Human Resources, Innovative Programs, Prevention and Early Intervention Programs and the Children’s Mental Health Services Act. It receives all county mental health three-year plans, annual updates and annual revenue and expenditure reports, and provides training and technical assistance for planning as needed.

The commission also evaluates programs funded by the Mental Health Services Act. It is authorized to advise the governor and Legislature on mental health policy.

Among the commission’s charges is responsibility for developing strategies to overcome the stigma of mental illness.

Boyd is chief administrative officer of Regional Behavioral Health and Continuing Care at Sutter Health’s Sacramento Sierra Region, including Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento. He is board-certified in healthcare management as a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives.

As regional executive for behavioral health at Sutter, Boyd led the expansion of services throughout the Sutter Sacramento Region system. He is responsible for strategy, advocacy and education associated with behavioral health, and support for Sutter staff treating behavioral health patients in the emergency rooms and acute care hospitals.

He initiated the Sutter Center for Psychiatry, the only not-for-profit psychiatric hospital in the greater Sacramento region that is part of an integrative health care system.

Boyd earned a Doctor of psychology degree from the California School of Professional Psychology and a Master’s in health administration from the University of Southern California.

The position does not require Senate confirmation and there is no compensation. When asked what motivated him to accept this appointment, Boyd said, “The levels of care that California counties provide for the mentally ill have decreased substantially since the economic downturn began last decade. Thanks to Proposition 63, the taxpayers approved funds to provide services for those who need them, and I want to ensure these funds are used for the services Californians authorized and that the state needs.

“The drop in mental health services throughout California has impacted hospitals and their emergency departments,” he continued. “When services for the mentally ill are cut at the public level, emergency rooms become filled with patients, and many hospitals are not equipped to handle the specialized care they need. This is a continuing issue, even as we come out of this downturn in the economy. Now is the time for the counties to open up more mental health beds and utilize the state funds to ease the overcrowding of our emergency rooms.”

Boyd said he has seen first-hand how the mental health budget cuts have affected communities, hospitals, emergency rooms and the not-for-profit organizations that provide mental health services.

“At Sutter, in order to ease the overcrowding of our emergency rooms, we have partnered with organizations throughout the region to offer services once provided by the counties,” he explained. “I hope to bring this knowledge and the spirit of partnership to this post, and get everyone on the same page so we can get the right services to the right people, and do it with the funds earmarked for the mentally ill.”

From 2004 to 2008, Boyd served on the city of Sacramento Planning and Design Commission. He said that involvement is relevant to his new assignment. “As a planning commissioner, I examined a significant amount of information and translated that into my decision-making to do the best I could for the community,” he said. “I also had a significant amount of experience with local and state entities, both public and private.”

Boyd said that in his capacity as commissioner, he intends to focus on reducing stigma, supporting early intervention, looking at best practices and introducing them to other areas where they might apply.

Roberta Long


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