During our March Spirit of the Barrio luncheon, Moving Forward and Opening New Doors, we highlighted the many ways Family Health Centers of San Diego is working to expand our communities’ health care safety net. Representatives from FHCSD’s mental health, substance use disorder and homeless services spoke about our programs moving into the future.

Mental Health Services

An estimated 44 million adults and 13.7 million children in America have a diagnosable mental health disorder, but less than half seek help. There are myriad factors which can prevent people from getting the mental health services they need.

One way FHCSD is working to change this is by embedding our mental health services within our primary care sites and integrating mental health questionnaires into the standard of care. This enables us to also fight mental health stigma and provide care to patients who would not otherwise seek it out.

In the spring, we will also be launching our Mobile Counseling Center (MCC). The MCC will travel to neighborhoods without regular access to mental health services much like our current Medical Mobile Units. The MCC will help to remove the burden of transportation for those most in need by bringing a licensed therapist to them to screen, diagnose and treat mental health issues in the community.

Substance Use Disorder Services

Substance use disorder services, currently available at 18 of our clinic sites, works to address the needs of the whole person. Our staff assess and work with patients to get them connected with medical care, mental health services, case management, employment prep, dental, vision and anything else one may need for a healthy recovery.

Our harm reduction model ensures that we meet our clients where they are emotionally, psychologically and physically. Our programs do not require that clients abstain from substance use before we connect them to services. With over 1,000 clients in care each year, our program offers a variety of services that include outpatient treatment, integrated substance use and mental health therapies and Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT).

With a 200% growth in enrollment over the past three years, we are proud to expand our MAT program to two additional sites in 2019. We will also be adding a substance use counselor to our Youth Counseling Center and ensuring we continue to provide accessible substance use disorder services to everyone, especially those who are most vulnerable.

Homeless Services

In 2018, FHCSD provided care to 27,000 individuals experiencing homelessness. Through our partnerships with the bridge shelters, we were able to provide basic medical care, mental health and substance use disorder services, HIV and hepatitis testing and vaccinations to the tents’ residents. We also conducted over 4,000 case management sessions at the bridge shelters to connect those individuals to services we were unable to provide on-site.

Through our Healthcare for the Homeless program, we provide gap medical coverage while we get patients enrolled into health insurance, restorative dental, a program unique to FHCSD, and vision services, which all work to improve our patients’ quality of life.

In the coming year, we plan to expand our homeless services even further. Three of our clinics will soon host a Safe Parking Program, which gives individuals living in their cars a secure place to park at night, on top of the full gambit of our health care services. We are also proud to be opening the county’s first ever Navigation Center, serving the homeless community with comprehensive medical and wrap around services, including on-site partnerships with collaborative community agencies.