Hours Expanded at City's Behavioral Access Center to Better Serve Those Seeking Treatment

Weekend and evening hours result in fewer barriers to care for people seeking substance use treatment and mental health care
July 05, 2023

San Francisco, CA — Mayor London N. Breed today announced the Behavioral Health Access Center (BHAC) has added operating hours on weekends to make mental health care and substance use treatment more accessible in San Francisco. This weekend-hours expansion comes on the heels of expanded evening hours, which began last year.

Operated by the San Francisco Department of Public Health (SFDPH), BHAC serves individuals who walk in or are referred into City-funded mental health and substance use treatment programs and services. Staff at the Center can assess and authorize placement into different levels of care, depending on a person’s need, including outpatient and intensive outpatient treatment, medication-assisted treatment, residential treatment, crisis stabilization, and other mental health and substance use services. 

“Behavioral health emergencies don’t happen Monday-through-Friday, 9-to-5,” said Mayor Breed. “When people who use drugs are ready for treatment, we need to be ready to meet them in that moment. Keeping the Behavioral Health Access Center open seven days a week and with evening hours makes it easier for San Franciscans with drug use and mental health issues to access care when they need it.”

Located in the South of Market neighborhood at 1380 Howard St., BHAC is co-located with the SFDPH Behavioral Health Services (BHS) Pharmacy, which added weekend hours last year, and the Office-Based Buprenorphine Induction Clinic (OBIC). Expanding hours at BHAC and BHS Pharmacy are among the multiple strategies that the City has implemented to reduce barriers to substance use treatment and prevent overdoses.  

The increased access to BHAC and BHS Pharmacy is also part of Mayor Breed’s strategy to address public drug use on the streets of San Francisco. Under the Mayor’s initiative to disrupt drug markets, people who want treatment will be served at BHAC. Additionally, the multi-department street care and response teams can link people to services via BHAC. BHAC also serves individuals referred for substance use and mental health treatment from the criminal justice system, hospitals, community nonprofits, and SPDPH clinics.  

Anyone seeking care for substance use disorders can walk in or be referred to BHAC. SFDPH also operates the Behavioral Health Access Line (888-246-3333) to help people identify treatment and care options 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  

“We continue to work to expand and initiate high-impact services and interventions to help people recover from substance use disorders and save lives,’ said Dr. Grant Colfax, SFDPH Director of Health. “Since 2020, we have dramatically increased access to medications for opioid use disorder, added 350 more residential treatment and care beds, expanded our street care teams, and launched new programs to reach people at highest risk of overdose. It is our priority to promote and protect the overall health and wellbeing of the people of San Francisco, and we are committed to doing all we can to help people recover from substance use disorder.”

SFDPH funds or operates approximately 55 specialty outpatient behavioral health programs, serving approximately 15,000 people a year. Another 25,000 people receive care for mental health and/or substance use through SFDPH primary care clinics. Up to 7,000 people are served annually in SFDPH residential care and support programs, counting 2,550 beds. BHAC, which supports approximately 3,000 people a year, has been placing people in these programs since it opened in 2008.  

As of July 1, BHAC is open Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., and on Saturdays and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The BHS Pharmacy is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and on weekends from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. OBIC is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., except from noon to 1 p.m. and on Wednesdays when it closes at 5 p.m.  

BHAC can support people with opioid use disorder by linking them to prompt buprenorphine or methadone treatment. Methadone and buprenorphine are the two most effective medications for opioid use disorder and reduce the risk of mortality by approximately 50%.

In addition to connecting people to outpatient and residential mental health and substance use programs, BHAC staff conducts needs assessments, helps visitors enroll in Medi-Cal, and distributes life-saving supplies like naloxone, a life-saving medication that can reverse an overdose from opioids.  

“The Behavioral Health Access Center helps 3,000 people a year get on the path to recovery and with these new weekend hours, we hope to serve up to 20% more,” said Dr. Hillary Kunins, Director of SFDPH Behavioral Health Services and Mental Health SF. “We must keep finding innovative ways to expand treatment and care options to offer and connect people get the lifesaving care they need.”