San Diego County Mental Health System Underfunded, Report Finds
Because San Diego County's mental health system is "grossly underfunded," treatment facilities are limited, there are too few employees and "too many" mentally ill people are incarcerated, a county grand jury report released yesterday said, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. While San Diego County is the third largest county in the state, it ranks 52nd out of 58 in mental health services spending. Dr. Rodrigo Munoz, president-elect of the San Diego County Medical Society, said the report illustrates "a number of long-standing problems" with the county's system. He said that among the report's findings, one of the "most important" was that the county lacks integration" between "public and community-based services," between programs for children and for adults and between mental health and substance abuse programs. Paula Landau-Cox, the county's interim mental health director, said that some of the findings are "outdated," as leadership and integration of services "have improved over the past year" (Rother, San Diego Union-Tribune, 4/6).
Advocates for the mentally ill met yesterday in Ventura for the second annual "Call to Action" conference, "demand[ing] reform" of a state law that "makes it difficult to forcibly treat the mentally ill," the Los Angeles Times reports. The advocates discussed "critical housing shortages," the lack of mental health care workers and the incarceration rate for people with mental illness, but the Times reports that the discussion focused on reforming the 1967 Lanterman-Petris-Short law, which "stresses community and voluntary treatment over indefinite confinement." "[S]upporters of reform" are backing a bill sponsored by Assembly member Helen Thomson (D-Davis), which requires that severely mentally ill people receive outpatient treatment under court order. However, Clyde Reynolds, executive director of the Turning Point Foundation, said that discussing involuntary treatment was "premature," because currently voluntary treatment is "insufficient." He added, "We won't know what we need until we fully fund the current system" (Kelly, Los Angeles Times, 4/6).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.