MENTAL ILLNESS: San Diego County Program Focuses on Youth
San Diego County will begin a new plan to reduce its homeless population by providing a transitional system for young mentally ill men and women in need of services, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. Sherry Harrison, the county's director of adult mental health, said, "For kids coming out of the child system, there's not been a really good bridge to migrate across to the adult system. A lot of them fall through the cracks and wind up in hospitals, in jail or homeless." Under the program, the county will assign three case managers to 30 mentally ill patients, ages 18-21, to help them obtain various services, including housing, medication management, education and employment assistance. The county was one of seven groups selected to share $1 million in state homeless aid, and the county's Health and Human Services Agency will match the $150,000 state contribution over the next three years to fund the program. If the project is successful, it could serve as a model for other areas, Harrison said (Brooks, 7/12).
State Should Take Action
In other mental illness news, Carla Jacobs, a member of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill and Treatment Advocacy Center board of directors, today criticizes Sen. John Burton (D- San Francisco) in a Los Angeles Times column for "throw[ing] the democratic process to the wind" by refusing to give legislation on mental illness reform a fair hearing in the Senate. Jacobs contends that AB 1800 would reform California's "antiquated involuntary treatment laws" by permitting involuntary treatment for people with mental illness who are "so terribly ill they cannot make rational choices for themselves." Noting that effective treatments are available, Jacobs contends that nearly 50,000 Californians with untreated mental illness are homeless and about 16% of state inmates are severely mentally ill. She said that those with untreated severe mental illness are 10 to 15 times more likely to commit suicide. People with untreated severe mental illness also are nearly three times more likely to be a victim of a violent crime, Jacobs said. Arguing that AB 1800 would provide "a much-needed safety net for Californians, protecting our most vulnerable citizens and the communities in which they live," Jacobs concludes that the measure would "elevate the right to be healthy above the right to be psychotic. There is nothing right or just about letting people live and die on California streets when they have a physical illness that easily can be treated" (7/13).