Reforming Mental Health Services in San Francisco, a Useful Project for Supes
The Examiner, quality San Francisco publication that it is, got recent coverage on the implementation of "Laura's Law" in SF wrong. San Francisco Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier wrote in to set it straight.
The Examiner’s report Monday on my legislation to implement “Laura’s Law” in San Francisco mistakenly suggests that medication would be forced on people with mental illness.
State law allows counties to require outpatient treatment through “Laura’s Law,” meaning someone with severe mental illness would have access to assisted outpatient treatment through a case manager. The person, in consultation with their provider, could choose whether or not to take medication.
Forced medication is only allowed in an inpatient, or hospital, setting. My hope is that “Laura’s Law” will keep people with mental illness out of institutions and connected to high-quality, appropriate mental health care.
“Laura’s Law” was modeled after a New York measure that has resulted in 77 percent fewer psychiatric hospitalizations, a 74 percent reduction in homelessness, a 55 percent drop in suicide attempts and an 83 percent reduction in arrests.
We must reform a system that places mentally ill persons in jails rather than in treatment.
Michela Alioto-Pier, Supervisor, San Francisco
Anyone who lives in or has visited San Francisco in the last 20 years can tell you we have a problem not only with a large homeless population but an exceptionally large number of mentally ill homeless. Worse, many of these are dual diagnosis with both mental health and substance abuse issues. Do I have stats? No, I don't, I'm telling you this because I live here and see them and know a crackhead with schizophrenia when I see one after living here as long as I have.
As some of you know, I don't think very highly of the Board of Supervisors and wish they would find some really useful projects instead of constantly coming up with bizarre ways to interfere in our personal freedoms or imply we need babysitting. This is actually a good use of their time and I'd love to see this turn out well.