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Delays for S.F. city employees seeking mental health care

Emma O'Brien
Flickr / Creative Commons

For those needing immediate mental health care in San Francisco, the situation is bad and is likely to get even worse, before it gets better.

That’s what officials from Kaiser Permanente told the Board of Supervisors Government Audit and Oversight Committee on Thursday.

The hearing was called to address months-long delays facing city employees and residents in seeing mental health therapists.

Mission Local reports that according to data provided at the hearing by the San Francisco Health Service System, more than 40 percent of those surveyed reported declining mental health during the pandemic. Nearly 60 percent said they had increasing levels of anxiety.

So far, Kaiser has met state mandates to see a patient for in-take within 10 days of a request. But, the problem facing patients and the health care provider has been in arranging follow-up appointments by a therapist, which can take as long as three months.

About 135,000 city employees, retirees and their family members are covered by the San Francisco Health Care Service, the majority of them insured through Kaiser.

Sunni M. Khalid is a veteran of more than 40 years in journalism, having worked in print, radio, television, and web journalism.