I need help from California mental health consumers/ professionals: please help me understand the adult psychiatric residential system

Hey everyone,

So I really need any input at all from those living in the sunny state of CA.

A good friend of mine lives there and has been really struggling living in the community with her mental illness. She was living in a board and care home but the care was substandard. I was horrified to learn what she had to put up with in terms of poor nutrition, insects, staff that weren’t trained at all and basically in it for the money. I’d like to hear other’s views on the board and care system. I saw on a website that these places are licensed but not regulated. It seems to me that anyone can get a license and there’s no oversight.

Anyway having been in several she’s established she will not go down that road.

She had an extremely bad time lately with no therapy, meds that weren’t working for her and no money for food. She’s at a really good psych hospital that is providing for all her needs. She said she wish she could live there. I wish the residential programs they do have like in IL are as nice as some hospital units are. Then again some hospital units are terrible and for all the downsides of Albany I’m very happy to be living here compared to there!

Anyway as the board and care places were listed as level two she was under the impression that there would be a level three, a long term option with skilled staff and proper treatment all at a residential level. Similar to the care I and others at intermediate care facilities for psych issues receive.

According to her social worker, who from my friend’s description is truly genuine and trying her best, she’s never heard of a level three anything in the state of CA.

The only option as this person sees it is for my friend to go back to her small town and lonely apartment with no care at all to just continue to struggle.

I am a skilled researcher and advocate hard for people. But this system has me extremely confused. Here’s info I found on the CA mental health website.


If you follow this link there’s descriptions of several levels of psychiatric residential care. But it’s not clear to me which is which and who qualifies and most important which one is truly the most long term which my friends needs as a form of stability in her life. Many places that seem really good are only available for stays of six months. I can’t find anything for longer though even then thestay isn’t always clear on the website.

I suppose I just have a lot of calling to do. But I will provide a couple links and tag these organizations in this post in hopes that those who have experiences with the facilities can vouch for how good/ bad they are, and give more information about referral process length of stay etc.

Crestwood behavioral health


It seems like a really good place particularly with the types of therapies used WRAP and DBT and just the description of everything. My friend’s social worker said she thought it would only be for six months though. If anyone works or has been there I’d love to know about your experiences. Also most important if it takes Medical? As these places are under department of mental health I assume they would.



I know this place says it’s a locked facility. But they make it sound like a pretty nice one, with a clear level system and a lot of support to get out to a better level of care. I just liked the information provided about it it seemed encouraging.

Other than that can’t find anything else useful.

There are also things called skilled nursing facilities which I guess are nursing homes. I don’t know if there are any specific for psych issues which is kind of what Albany care is.

Like I said I’d just love if someone compassionate and knowing about this stuff could help me through the maze a bit so I can help my friend get the best care possible.

It just saddens me the number of places that are so low quality like the board and care homes. I don’t know if these are the only options for those needing care in the community but not able to live alone. I’m incouraging my friend to pursue something like the crestwood center. If it is six months it’s six months of her being in a safe place getting good care and maybe the team there could refer somewhere else.

I so wish the path to getting good care for those that are qualified and so struggling without it was clearer and easier. It’s just not and probably won’t be unless there’s a bunch of people working really hard to change policies/ get funding which is a huge battle.

As I said any info at all from anyone who understands this system of care I and my friend would so appreciate it. The hospital can only keep her for up to two weeks and I’m hoping we can find something before then. All thoughts are welcome.


2 thoughts on “I need help from California mental health consumers/ professionals: please help me understand the adult psychiatric residential system

  1. we can talk more privately about this- there are Crestwood facilities up here, and they actually can be a fair bit longer than six months, and honestly six months is better than nothing. in CA I’ve noticed that they do NOT tend to be called residential, that usually refers to things like residential substance programs or say the kind of ED progarms that don’t take regular insurance…

    as far as I know Crestwood takes MediCaid, though she SHOULD be able to get MediCare (yes, they say that’s not true, it really is bullshit trust me).

    Canyon Manor is actually vaguely in my area, as Marin is the county north of me. There are Crestwood locations up here, too.

    There are also some residential programs in SF (you have to be a resident of most counties to get their services, though as a homeless person you can basically “chose’ which county to be listed on).

    I would say she would both like and do better at the Bridge program of Crestwood than the regular one- from the people I’ve known to be in one of their facilities. The people in it are more functional etc.

    She DOES need to TO go hairing off on her own making awful choices again, though, which would really interrupt things.

    Also there is the county by county resource of 211, I can look stuff up via that, I suspect it’s not compatabile to your reading software although you could try…

    I honestly have NO idea why she would go back to that place, there are if nothing else decent shelters here in the bay area and she’d be better able to access services.
    Also, not that this is a decent time, but there is a really good trauma hospital that takes MediCare in the LA area.

    • Hey Thanks for commenting on this! Wow that I wrote it in 2015 and now the situation is ten times worse. Now we’re looking at resources in LA, or Pasidenia which I don’t know how far away that is from where she started in LA. What a mess! Cool to know more about the system back then when I wrote this just couldn’t find anything and that grass valley area was just crazy. Who knows what will happen now.

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