Since the killing of George Floyd last year, communities across the nation have recognized the need to re-evaluate policing practices. In turn, this has led to a greater focus on addressing mental health issues. The conversation continues to be timely, as the Coronavirus has only exacerbated the psychological struggles of our citizens.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported “elevated levels of adverse mental health conditions, substance use and suicidal ideation” in U.S. adults since the start of the pandemic. The report showed that symptoms of anxiety disorder reported in the second quarter of 2020 were approximately three times those reported in the second quarter of 2019 (25.5% versus 8.1%). Prevalence of depressive disorder was found to be approximately four times greater in the second quarter of 2020 compared to what was reported in the second quarter of 2019 (24.3% versus 6.5%).

While the news is grim, it’s encouraging to see the three cities of the Tri-Valley working together to enter into a plan that will provide critical mental health services to those in need, regardless of insurance status.

By agreeing to fund $321,000 in total for the Axis Community Health pilot program, the cities of Dublin and Pleasanton showed that they are invested in supplementing police services when it comes to urgent mental health care. They are not replacing services. We hope to see Livermore’s council decide on March 22 to join the pilot program as well.

Another bonus for the cities could come in the form of help from the county. Alameda County Behavioral Health plans to provide a grant for the program in the amount of $250,000, which would leave the remaining $71,000 split three ways for Livermore, Pleasanton and Dublin to cover.

This safety net for the community is essential, especially as we’ve reached the one-year marker of our nation’s shut down due to the pandemic. Through local, state and federal funding, the Axis program currently serves more than 14,000 members in the Tri-Valley. With this extended funding, it will serve even more.