Silicon Valley officials question Newsom’s mental health plan

California lawmakers have approved a first-of-its-kind bill in the state requiring court-ordered mental health treatment and support for individuals with severe mental illness, but there is concern about how it works.

The Court’s Community Assistance, Recovery, and Empowerment (CARE) program sailed through the state legislature, with a unanimous vote in the Senate and only two opposed in the Assembly. Governor Gavin Newsom, from The program was presented in March At a mental health facility in San Jose, he is expected to sign the law into law.

Assembly member Ash Clara, who opposed the bill and represents District 27 that covers a large area of ​​San Jose and part of Santa Clara, said CAIR’s court could have a disproportionate impact on homeless individuals already suffering from stigma.

Clara said that while the program has good intentions, it also allows a wide range of individuals, including law enforcement, to refer non-residential residents to CARE Court without their consent. His other problem with the bill is that it does not guarantee housing for people once they leave the program.

“What really worries me is that at the local level, it will be implemented in a way that takes the voice away from the (non-habitual) individuals, rather than finding other opportunities for their recovery so that they can voluntarily enter into therapy,” Clara told San José Spotlight.

CARE Court is designed for specific individuals, including those with schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders. The program provides a year of treatment in an effort to prevent people from being imprisoned or placed under guard for their mental illness.

The program mandates participation at the state level, with two implementation dates. The first batch of counties is expected to begin Kert Court by October 2023. Santa Clara County is expected to implement Kert Court in late 2024.

revolving door

Santa Clara County should receive $288.4 million in housing funding and $301.4 million in behavioral health funding from the state, according to reports from the California Department of Health and Human Services.

But even with delays to 2024 and millions streaming out of the state, County Supervisor Susan Ellenberg still has reservations about how the program will work.

“My concern about implementing the legislation’s mandates is that the plan creates a new judicial system tasked with increased powers of coercive treatment, but does not guarantee or provide any new housing or therapeutic capacity,” Ellenberg told the San Jose Spotlight. “We need facilities and manpower more urgently than we need a new court system. But our county will certainly maximize the benefits that CARE Court can provide to our residents.”

Provincial supervisors announced mental health crisis in january. In July, Santa Clara County launched 988, from Mental Health Crisis Hotline, Which also requires an immediate service response. This includes a new youth psychiatric facility at the much-delayed Santa Clara Valley Medical Center. At a recent board meeting, Ellenberg stated that the county’s mental health care system “Basically broken“Because of a shortage of behavioral health care workers and support services.

Uday Kapoor, president of the NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) chapter in Santa Clara, said CARE’s court has the potential to prevent severely mentally ill individuals from enduring a course of continuous short-term hospitalization or emergency psychiatric services. Through the program, participants have access to specialized care that also allows for the participation of family members, who cannot make treatment decisions when the participant is not a minor.

“People with chronic mental illness go through a revolving door,” Kapoor told Jose Spotlight. “It takes a village to solve problems, and each person is very unique.”

While the program can help families with severe mental illness get better care, CARE Court is a legal process rather than a medical process focused on public health, former Senator Jim Bell said, noting that the state needs to work toward achieving comprehensive mindset. Health Care.

“More than half of people with mental health issues do not receive treatment at all in California,” Bell told the San Jose Spotlight. “I would prefer to have a full-service mental health system that would reduce the need for CARE court.”

Clara also sees continuity of care as a key factor in helping those with mental health challenges. Both state and county governments should focus on ensuring that CARE Court successfully provides long-term solutions to participants, he said. The goal should be permanent housing and ongoing mental health support.

“If someone does not have housing and is expected to successfully complete a program in which they did not enter voluntarily, that is not a realistic outcome,” Clara told the San Jose Spotlight. “I worry that there will be a lot of pressure on cities to use CARE Court to clean up the streets.”

Call Loan-Anh Pham at [email protected] Or follow @theLoanAnhLede on Twitter.

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