May 29, 2023
Final Reports
San Mateo Courts - Civil Grand Jury 1999 Final Report: San Mateo County Mental Health Services Discharge Planning
Background | Findings | Commendation

San Mateo County Health Services provided mental health crisis treatment to 925 new patients during the one-year period beginning June 1, 1998. Treatment took place at San Mateo County General Hospital. As part of the treatment plan, an estimate of the date of discharge was made at the time of admission. The average number of days a patient stayed in the hospital was ten days.

A team of mental health professionals collaborates in developing a discharge plan, and the patient is discharged with supportive care that encourages him or her to function at the highest level possible.

The County contracts with several facilities that offer different levels of mental health care. They include locked facilities for long-term care patients (60 to 180 days or longer) such as Cordilleras Mental Health Center. They also contract with board and care homes, boarding houses and assisted independent living facilities run by not for profit organizations, e.g. Mental Health Association, Caminar, Mateo Lodge and Community Living Centers.

Approximately 30% of San Mateo County Jail admissions are screened for mental illness. Of those screened, 65% have had a history of mental illness that has been treated in San Mateo County. If it is possible to place mentally ill persons with the general jail population, that is done. There is a segregated area in which they are housed if they are at risk, vulnerable or psychotic.

Mentally ill persons who are discharged from jail are referred to County Mental Health Services. In general, the County Mental Health Service and the community based mental health providers will accept persons released from jail into their programs.


Grand Jury members met with administrators and staff members at the mental health facilities located at San Mateo County General Hospital, the County Jail and Cordilleras Mental Health Center. The personnel of these facilities were well informed and forthright in their descriptions of their services, but there were some questions regarding discharge planning that required further explanation.

As a result, lists of questions were prepared and submitted to the Directors of the County General Hospital and Cordilleras Mental Health Center. The questions were designed to determine what elements were included in a discharge plan such as housing, follow-up therapy and prescriptions. Also asked were which staff members participate with the patient in making the plan, where the patients go when they leave the hospital and how many are readmitted.

In addition to the questionnaire, the Director of the Mental Health Recovery Program at the County Jail met with the Grand Jury.

The results of the questionnaire and meeting found that the relationships the County Mental Health Services have developed with agencies provide various levels of care which allow for the tailoring of services to patients' needs. The comprehensive nature of services is of great benefit to the citizens of San Mateo County.


The San Mateo County 1999 Grand Jury commends the San Mateo County Health Services Agency for the development of a comprehensive array of treatment and support services for the mentally ill which allow the course of treatment to be tailored to patients' needs.


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