Los Angeles County Community Mental Health Program Cuts Hospitalizations, Jail Time
Since its creation by the state Legislature in November 1999, the Community Mental Health Treatment Program has reduced hospitalizations, incarcerations and homelessness for those with mental illnesses in Los Angeles County by offering community-based treatment, the Los Angeles Times reports. The program uses "aggressive" outreach, housing and job training to "induce" participation, and offers medical attention, group therapy and "intensive counseling." The Times reports that a new legislative report found that after implementation of the program, hospitalizations for patients dropped 77% from the previous year, while the number of days spent in jail or homeless fell 84.6% and 69%, respectively. According to the legislative report, homelessness dropped 55% and jail time fell 82% among the more than 800 participants in Los Angeles County. In addition, full-time employment for participants increased by 155%. The report also found that the money saved from reduced jail time and avoidable hospitalizations "exceeded $7.3 million." In response to the success, state officials are expanding the program to 32 other cities and counties and increasing funding from $14 million to $55 million. Assembly member Darrel Steinberg (D-Sacramento), who sponsored the legislation that created the program, said, "What we're doing is beginning to fulfill a promise of a generation ago to actually build a community based mental health care system" (Rivera, Los Angeles Times, 5/12).