HEALTHRIGHT 360 STATEMENT ON DIRECT-SERVICE CHALLENGES AND ADVOCACY IN STRENGTHENING RECRUITMENT AND RETENTION FOR THE BEHAVIORAL HEALTH WORKFORCE

San Francisco, CA - Yesterday, as the San Francisco Board of Supervisors reconvened during the outset of Recovery Month – a time to celebrate the recovery journey and all its challenges and triumphs – we wish to acknowledge San Francisco Supervisor Catherine Stefani for her attention to gaps in the continuum of care for those in our community facing alcohol, substance use disorder, and behavioral health challenges. Drawing from personal insights, as her mother was a nurse, Supervisor Stefani has shown a commitment to those in need by ensuring that appropriate resources are available to people when they are ready to engage in treatment.For well over two years, organizations, including HealthRIGHT 360, have consistently voiced concerns regarding staffing challenges prevalent in the treatment community and across healthcare systems.[1] It is evident that a program’s efficacy and accessibility is limited without sufficient staffing. The challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic cannot be overstated and continue to this day. HealthRIGHT 360’s capacity to deliver withdrawal management services was recently impacted, again, as a consequence of a substantial number of key withdrawal management staff, as well as residential clients, contracting COVID-19 early last week. Despite this, our staff, along with others in San Francisco’s behavioral health workforce, have shown resilience and dedication, ensuring that services are available and a broader continuity of care remains intact. This epitomizes our city’s collective commitment to the well-being of our community.

In the interest of full transparency, we welcome the audit proposed by Supervisor Stefani at yesterday’s board meeting. Additionally, we welcome her support and that of her colleagues among the Board of Supervisors in addressing long-standing staffing challenges through appropriate funding allocations to City contracts and investments in workforce development to assist in dire recruitment and retention needs.[2] These actions will be instrumental not only for HealthRIGHT 360, but for all direct-service providers in San Francisco, thus ensuring the provision of meaningful services supported by a robust staffing framework.

San Francisco's growing need for behavioral health services, ranging from mental health crises to issues of alcohol and substance use, makes investments in this sector critical. Supervisor Stefani's efforts and insights reinforce this sentiment. We are optimistic that with champions like her, San Francisco is poised to address these needs effectively, contributing to a healthier, safer, and more vibrant community.

About HealthRIGHT 360:
HealthRIGHT 360 is a non-profit provider of substance use disorder treatment, mental health services, and primary care to over 39,000 Californians annually. HealthRIGHT 360 provides care that is compassionate, non-judgmental, and evidence-based. We provide services, regardless of one's ability to pay; inspired by our belief that healthcare is a right, not a privilege. Learn more about HealthRIGHT 360 and our programs at https://www.healthright360.org/

 

[1] Tucker, J. "There aren’t enough mental health professionals despite a tsunami of need. Here’s what S.F. is doing about it," San Francisco Chronicle, December 23, 2021, https://www.sfchronicle.com/sf/article/There-aren-t-enough-mental-health-professionals-16724027.php

[2] Wiener, J. "Unanswered cries: Why California faces a shortage of mental health workers," CalMatters, September 8, 2022, https://calmatters.org/health/2022/09/california-shortage-mental-health-workers/