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County wins $2 million to treat mental and substance-abuse disorders

 

A federal grant to San Mateo County has the potential to brighten the future of individuals afflicted with mental health and substance-abuse disorders, two categories of illness often made worse by conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and asthma.

The four-year $2 million grant, awarded in October by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, will enable a consortium of regional health care outlets, including two county clinics, to provide better primary and behavioral care services, according to a county statement.

The individuals targeted by this grant tend to make things worse for themselves by a sedentary lifestyle, poor nutrition and smoking. Three out of five of their deaths are preventable, the statement said.

"As a nation, we grapple with the harsh reality that persons with mental illness are dying 25 years earlier than the rest of the population," said Louise Rogers, the county's director of behavioral health and recovery services. The grant money "will help to improve their quality of life and provide them with tools to manage their health."

Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, said the grant is "a long overdue investment in the health of some of our most vulnerable populations. The long-established split between 'mental' and 'physical' health is not justified in research and should not be perpetuated in health care."

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