Opinion Section 3/23/14
Your March 20 editorial, “Outcry shows need for mental health aid,” points out the many challenges of addressing the mentally ill in our communities.
Addressing the mentally ill problem requires a three-pronged approach – for the functioning mentally ill, the mentally ill homeless and those whose illness precludes them from consenting to treatment.
State legislation is needed to reform current state law which prohibits the required mandatory treatment to help the mentally ill homeless recover and lead productive lives.
The Laura’s Law pilot program my office initiated in Los Angeles County provides voluntary and court-ordered intensive treatment in an assisted outpatient program.
It has successfully reintegrated participants back into the community with a 78% reduction in incarcerations and a 77% reduction in hospitalizations. These reductions significantly improved the lives of program participants and cut costs to the community and taxpayers by 40%.
As a result of the pilot’s success, the Board of Supervisors requested the Director of Mental Health to develop a proposal to significantly expand this program in the Antelope Valley and across the county. The Department of Mental Health will be presenting this proposal to the board in the next 60 days.
My office is working closely with the Department of Mental Health, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, the cities and local community providers to ensure that the Antelope Valley receives its fair share of the funding needed to provide these vital services.