SUPERVISOR DIANNE JACOB
SUPERVISOR DAVE ROBERTS
COUNTY OF SAN DIEGO
Contact: Steve Schmidt, 619-206-9108 or John Weil, 619-531-5533
SAN DIEGO COUNTY TO EXPAND MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES
The Board of Supervisors unanimously agreed Tuesday (7/30/2013) to expand outreach services for the severely mentally ill and to further explore the implementation of Laura’s Law.
At the urging of Supervisor Dianne Jacob and Supervisor Dave Roberts, the board voted 5-0 to enhance the county’s In-Home Outreach Team program, or IHOT, in an effort to reach more adults who have resisted treatment or other services.
“The expansion of the outreach program is a major step forward for the region,” said Jacob. “We are also continuing to study what it may take to put Laura’s Law into place, but if we take that step we want to make sure it’s done in a cost-effective way that will make a real difference in the lives of the mentally ill.”
“I wanted to ensure that we strengthen the programs and treatment for those with mental illness and that that there are no gaps in our services,” Roberts said. “County staff will provide quarterly reports to the board so that we can monitor progress and make certain we reach these goals.”
The vote followed a public hearing that included calls for the immediate implementation of Laura’s Law, which permits court-ordered, involuntary treatment for the mentally ill who refuse medication and are unable to make rational decisions.
County officials and others noted, however, that the 11-year-old state law includes limitations that hamper its effective implementation.
The board backed a county staff recommendation to pursue modifications in Laura’s Law while the county seeks funding to possibly put the law into effect. Staff pegged the initial cost of these efforts, along with the expansion of IHOT and other enhancements, at up to $2.3 million.
IHOT is a voluntary program that was launched in only a portion of the county early last year. It will now be expanded to the entire region.
County staff will update the board four times a year on the expansion of IHOT and the possible implementation of Laura’s Law.
Jacob and Roberts raised the issue of the county’s mental health strategy in March, convincing their board colleagues to weigh the current voluntary approach against Laura’s Law.