After slow start, Kern County says reimagined court-ordered mental health treatment program shows promise | News – Bakersfield, California

Bakersfield, California 2021-05-29 19:00:00 –

For years, Saladecy has resisted the treatment of “serious brain disease.” As a result, I sometimes heard voices in my head telling me to commit suicide.

Her psychosis, first diagnosed with major depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder in her second year, was exacerbated last year at California State University, Northridge, when she evacuated from the dormitory while wielding a knife.

“I was listening. They threatened and scared me, so I was trying to protect myself,” she said in a telephone interview. “I easily shot at the policeman. It may have been worse. It could have been worse. “

Diagnosed with bipolar disorder and schizoaffective disorder, Decy opposed a family attempt to treat her because she was worried that it might affect her use of methamphetamine.

She said she had voluntarily received more than 50 psychiatric treatments, and in one tension exchange, the police were sprayed with pepper after her family called 911 to take her to the hospital. It was sprayed and treated manually. However, the unwilling stay did not last long and the treatment did not take root.

In Dessy’s experience, her mother, Fawn Kennedy Dessy, requested the Kern County Supervisory Board in 2016 to implement a “Laura’s Law” that would allow court-ordered treatment of individuals with severe mental illness. Supervisors passed the law, but Kern County Behavioral Health Services took a long time to come into force and was largely unchanged.

Currently, legislative changes require counties throughout California to choose whether or not to choose Laura’s law, and Kern County has revisited the program and said it has significantly increased the number of individuals participating. .. Kern County officials hope that the local Laura legal program will continue to grow, as the state legislature is also considering expanding the standards covered by Laura’s law.

Help for those who don’t like it

Laura’s Law is named after 19-year-old sophomore Laura Wilcox, who was shot at a mental health clinic in Nevada County while working as a receptionist during the winter vacation. The man who shot her has long resisted the treatment of delusions and paranoia.

The bill, passed in 2002, allows judges to order adjunctive outpatient treatment for individuals who have a history of violations and are unlikely to survive in the community without supervision, among other criteria. ..

Laura’s law only applies to opt-in counties, and in 2016 Kern County was the first in the state to do so. Still, three years after it was approved, no one in Khan was ordered to be treated.

“We didn’t know something was wrong because no one was comparing ourselves,” said Alison Burrows, Deputy Director of Behavioral Health. “More It really took a while for people to get involved. Wait a minute. Understand that the current situation isn’t enough. Find out what’s happening here. “

The reassessment process began in 2019, inviting Nevada County officials to Kern County to encourage behavioral health to learn from those who have successfully implemented Laura’s Law.

“We really re-educated the entire county, from public defenders to judges,” says Burroughs. “We have witnessed a big change. We are really proud of the work we have done since then.”

Behavioral Health states that it has experienced significant improvements since it was redone. The number of referrals to Laura’s Law increased from 45 in the 2018-19 fiscal year to the following 145. According to the county, “appropriate referrals” also increased from 50% to 70%.

From July to March, 23 of the 35 appropriate Laura’s Law inquiries voluntarily engaged in outpatient services. Eight were treated by court order.

Currently, “We are in contact with the county. We can offer what Nevada County has done for us,” Burroughs said.

To opt in or opt out

Not all counties have adopted Laura’s Law. So far, only 23 counties have opt-in. The rest must be decided by July 1st before the state deadline expires.

Recently, Monterey County supervisors voted to opt out after concerns were raised about the impact on the county’s budget. Some critics argued that civil liberties and they did not need them. It raises the question of the risks of requiring treatment for those who do.

When Kern County supervisors approved Laura’s law in 2016, they acknowledged that court-ordered treatment was a difficult task. However, they acknowledged that the law could help families struggling to find options for members suffering from mental illness.

For Deborah Fabos, whose son is fighting mental illness, Laura’s Law is an important option for the family.

“(Mental illness) slows down. It activates in its heyday. You just get ready to start your life and cut you off. So it’s really annoying if your family doesn’t understand how to deal with it. Will be, “she said. “Isn’t it reasonable that these people with the most severe symptoms need immediate treatment and a high level of support to heal their brains?”


39-year-old Dessy currently works part-time at the clinic where she was treated, as well as part-time to assist her mother in legal practice.

“I didn’t expect her to live this long,” said her mother, Fawn Kennedy Desie, adding that she was able to treat her because she insisted on her behalf.

But now that her family has overcome the worst hardships, Decy has continued to support Laura’s Law and encourage the county to implement it more fully.

“Continuous treatment and wraparound services are essential,” she said. “Most people don’t do what I did. They don’t have the money to go there and cause hell.”

Sarah is now grateful for the changes in the legal environment.

“It’s reassuring to know that Laura’s Law is upheld in this community,” she said. “I know there is help from the community as it will bring me back to treatment if I fail and return to addiction.”

You can contact Sam Morgen at 661-395-7415. You can also follow him on Twitter @smorgenTBC.

After slow start, Kern County says reimagined court-ordered mental health treatment program shows promise | News Source link After slow start, Kern County says reimagined court-ordered mental health treatment program shows promise | News

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