California Misses Opportunity to Provide Treatment for Seriously Ill

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A storm is brewing over the most effective way to implement California’s Laura’s Law so that services reach those who need them most. We recently celebrated legislative efforts to amend the life-saving mental illness treatment law, but these legislative strides were halted by California Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg.

While we consider it progress that the Senate Pro Tem eliminated funding hurdles by clarifying that money from the Mental Health Services Act can be used to implement the law, this does not mean services will reach people with the most severe mental illnesses who need them the most.

The Sacramento Bee published today three letters that demonstrate how passionately people feel that Steinberg’s amendments gut the core of the law, which makes treatment possible for people who are too sick to realize they are ill.

“Steinberg’s plan will eliminate the funding hurdle but misses the opportunity to make treatment more accessible to the sickest and most vulnerable Californians by removing other barriers to implementing Laura’s Law.”

“His new proposals are for voluntary services and do not help the seriously ill who are too psychotic to know they are ill. To help people living under lice-infected clothing, who are eating out of dumpsters, screaming they are the Messiah requires implementing Laura’s Law.”

“[I]deological arguments keep getting in his way. That is the is the battle between those who believe acceptance of mental health treatment must always be through a person’s free will decision and those who recognize psychosis robs some people with mental illness of the ability to realize they are ill and need treatment.”

We commend Steinberg on his plan to make it easier to fund assisted outpatient treatment (AOT), but he is missing an opportunity remove other barriers that would make treatment more accessible for the sickest and most vulnerable Californians.

–Treatment Advocacy Center

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