In late October, Los Angeles County supervisors approved a motion that seeks to expand the definition of what a grave disability is. The goal is to come up with a lawful way to expand the role of social workers and law enforcement officers to be able to detain people with severe mental illness who refuse treatment, even if their lives are in grave danger. The motion asks the county’s Department of Mental Health to work with attorneys, civil rights organizations, mental health advocacy groups, and others to develop recommendations for legislative proposals that would expand state law that defines what a grave disability is. Supervisor Kathryn Barger, one of two supervisors that introduced the motion, stated,
Our current mental health laws are a one-size-fits-all approach to mental illness, which makes it nearly impossible to address the needs of the growing statistic of the mentally ill among the homeless population and in our jails. State law should consider medical complexities in the context of mental illness, thereby allowing for the delivery of more effective treatment and care.
According to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, an estimated 30 percent of Los Angeles County’s homeless population has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, and other mental illnesses. Hopefully this motion will lead to something that will help people with severe mental illness.