The Hillmont Psychiatric Center in Ventura offers emergency care for people experiencing mental health crises.

Ventura County supervisors have ordered an independent assessment of the county’s entire mental health system at the urging of patient advocates.

The evaluation, approved unanimously on Feb. 8, will examine the adequacy of programs for mental illness and substance use, identify gaps and make recommendations, said Barry Zimmerman, director of the county’s Health Care Agency.

He said various aspects of the county’s programs are reviewed and audited regularly, but that this study would look broadly at the county’s offerings for treatment, rehabilitation, prevention and housing.

“This puts it all together in one comprehensive approach,” Zimmerman said.

The analysis would examine the entire system, including programs offered in hospitals, outpatient clinics, schools and the criminal justice system, officials said.

A citizen panel known as the Behavioral Health Advisory Board called for supervisors to initiate the study last summer, said Jerry Harris, a former chairman of the group. Activists with the local affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness also supported the move in meetings with top county officials, Harris said.

“It took a lot of support from the community,” he said.

Harris said county officials have tried to meet the needs but on a piecemeal basis.

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