As California goes – so goes the Nation

Ronald Raygun, when he was Governor of California, closed most of the Mental hospitals – and other states quickly follow. At the time the propaganda line was that the former mental health patients would be treated in “community centers”. That ideal never did happen. What we saw in California was an explosion of homeless people living in the streets. The homeless population also exploded in other urban centers throughout the Nation. Jail quickly became the de facto holding facilities for those with mental illnesses.

The U.S. does not have enough beds to care for the thousands who roam the streets. Most mentally ill individuals are self harming or are victims of violent assaults. However, the rare violent mentally ill person can cause a lot of harm. The problem is how to get the dangerous mental patients off the streets and force them into treatment. The facts are that a out 25% of people with some forms of mental illness do not believe that they are ill. They will resist taking medication. Parts of California have been adopting a new law which allows the forced treatment of potentially violent mentally ill persons.

My sister has schizophrenia and she refuses to take meds to control her psychotic episodes. She needs full time treatment – but California closed the Mental hospitals. I mention this because I personally know what the lack of mental health facilities has impacted her life and members of her family.

This law isn’t yet perfect – but it is a starting place toward a more rational and civilized way of dealing with the Mental health needs of a significant part of our citizens. Wishing that mental illness would go away – doesn’t work. We have a mental health crisis in our country. A tiny minority of mental ill people can be home violent. All of the recent mass murders (random killing) have shown clear signs of mental illness. Yet they were able to function well enough to find or buy guns and then go to a political rally, or to a school, or to a more is theater and kill many innocents before they were stopped.

Here’s a link to the article about San Francisco passing the law. And at the link is a link to the law itself.

“The policy change came as a result of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors approving a 12-year-old statute, Laura’s Law (pdf), which authorizes local governments, under limited circumstances, to force mentally ill people into treatment. Although the vote was 9-2, supporters had to make concessions to win over some board members.

Supervisor David Campos only agreed to back the move after a provision was added to create a local oversight team that will work to convince the mentally ill to voluntarily accept help first, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. Campos also said he preferred having the board approve the implementation of Laura’s Law instead of letting voters decide through the ballot box. A vote of the people would have required another vote to change the law.”

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