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San Diego becomes 11th County in California to implement Laura’s Law

Published On: 05-09-2016 in Category: mental health law

To help those who refuse to acknowledge or get treatment for various mental illnesses, San Diego recently implemented Laura’s Law. It thus became the 11th county in California to do so. The law allows for court-ordered assisted outpatient treatment for mentally ill patients.

According to the law, a concerned family member can appeal to a judge to order a family member or a relative to undergo mental health treatment in an outpatient facility, if he or she does not acknowledge his or her illness and declines any form of treatment. The law allows courts to order a small subset of people with serious mental illness who meet very narrowly defined criteria to accept treatment as a condition of living in the community.

Alfredo Aguirre, director of behavioral health for the San Diego County Department of Health and Human Services, told the KPBS Midday Edition in April 2016, “There is that subset of group (who are) not aware of their mental illness or they’ve had bad experiences with medications or may be cultural issues that get in the way of receiving care.”

Such an order, especially coming from a legal authority like a judge, would encourage people with mental health issues to seek proper treatment, said chief medical officer for Sharp Behavioral Health Services Dr. Michael Plopper.

Though the California Legislature approved Laura’s Law in 2003, it was not adopted by San Diego authorities largely due to questions of payment. Even now, the law does not come with any funding and it is totally discretionary.

However, according to Plopper, it was a fair implementation of the law.

What is Laura’s Law?

The Law has been named after 19-year-old Laura Wilcox who was gunned down by a mentally ill man in 2001. The law states that a person, who is mentally ill but refuses to seek treatment and has a history of hospitalization, is a potential threat to himself and others and can be asked by the court to follow a “medically assisted outpatient treatment.” If the person concerned refuses to follow the order, he or she can be put in a psychiatric facility for up to three days.

However, Nevada County, where Wilcox lived and which fully implemented Laura’s Law in 2008, found such a situation to be rare. Nevada County has become an evangelist for Laura’s Law. In 2012, it was found that for every $1 spent on the program, the county saved $2 by keeping people out of jail and preventing emergency hospitalizations and police calls.

With one more county welcoming the initiative, it seems that more people will now get help for mental disorders.

Way to recovery

Mental illnesses can be extremely debilitating and can interfere with day-to-day activities. An estimated 54 million Americans suffer from some form of mental disorder in a year. It can be physically and emotionally tedious and can make one vulnerable to taking extreme steps.

If you or your loved one is suffering from any mental disorder, it is time to seek treatment immediately. The San Diego Drug Treatment and Rehab Center can help you get the right mental health treatment program depending on your condition. You can chat online or call the specialists at 619-567-2107 for any queries on mental disorders, their related diagnosis, and effective treatment procedures. Please remember, every person gets a second chance to make a choice, yours is just a call away.

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