Los Angeles County officials are looking at how mental health services can be delivered more efficiently, after Supervisor Michael Antonovich called for a look into streamlining help for those who need it most.
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“(Antonovich) is committed to ensuring the chronically homeless and mentally ill in our valley have the services they need,” said Tony Bell, spokesman for Antonovich’s office. “We have a terrible problem with this.”
The homeless population is one of the most affected by Laura’s Law. The state law sets conditions for when a person may be compelled to seek mental health treatment.
The law is enforced differently from county to county in California at each county’s discretion, with Los Angeles being one that enacts the law on a limited basis.
Antonovich has called for more widespread enactment of the law on a countywide basis, Bell said.
“Without Laura’s Law, these people are left to languish on the streets,” he added. “Without Laura’s Law, these people are left without the treatment they need.”
Local homeless officials supported the move, citing the fact that historically, more than half of the SCV Emergency Winter Shelter clients are dealing with substance abuse or mental health issues, said Tim Davis, executive director of Bridge to Home. Bridge to Home is the local organization that operates the shelter.
“Exactly how it’s going to affect us I can’t say,” Davis said, noting it was too soon to comment on how the plan would affect the shelter, which closes for the season April 1. “We deal with our clients self-declaring what their conditions are.”
Davis said those who stay at the shelter answer a series of questions during the intake process, adding that families who come in are
“Substance-abuse treatment and mental health treatment is an important piece of what we do,” Davis said.
As the law stands now, the center can’t do much more than offer service suggestions for those with mental health problems asking for assistance, Davis said.
But Bell said the nature of some health issues doesn’t allow individuals who might need help to being able to identify their need.
“The mental health issue that they have most likely precludes them from consent to treatment. Therefore, we need to intervene as a society to get them the treatment that they need,” Bell said. “That’s very important to (Antonovich’s) office.”
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