County Orders Adoption of Recommendations to Improve Standard of Care for the Mentally Ill

The Board of Supervisors approved a motion by Supervisor Kathryn Barger to adopt Department of Mental Health recommendations to improve the delivery of quality and humane treatment for those who are gravely disabled and incapable of seeking or accepting mental health treatment and care.

“Within the County’s chronically homeless population, there is a significant segment of individuals who refuse treatment – but are clearly in need of care,” said Barger.  “I strongly believe that if someone’s mental disorder prevents them from providing for their own basic needs then they are in fact, ‘gravely disabled’ and in need of treatment and care.”

As part of the process ordered in the Barger motion, the Department of Mental Health convened a full range of county and community stakeholders to thoroughly examine current methods of engagement, delivery of services, and related laws which empower the county to care for the gravely disabled.  As a result, thirteen recommendations were presented to the Board which collectively set forth a bold and innovative initiative to improve the process by which individuals receive care.

One recommendation calls for the expansion of Psychiatric Mobile Response Teams in an effort to grow response capacity and widen the range of activities delivered by each team — not only for the purpose of outreach and hospitalization under 5150 detention, but also real time triage.  Further recommendations include the development of new partnership models, increased capacity at licensed facilities, and the exploration of furthering court-ordered evaluation and treatment.

“The County has a moral obligation to ensure that those who are suffering from grave mental illness – who are living in deplorable conditions and unable to provide for their own basic human needs – receive the treatment and care that would drastically improve their quality of life,” Barger added.

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