Court-Ordered Mental Health Needs
“There is inadequate care for people who are arrested and have mental health issues.” said Mark Gale, a representative from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), who spoke at our Club’s meeting on March 18.  There has been inadequate capacity for court-ordered mental health diversion programs until recently when California Senate Bill 82 was passed.
The legislation, signed into law in 2013, provided crucial funding for pre- and post-booking diversion programs for young offenders who are have Serious Mental Illness (SMI) challenges. The program expanded the courts’ resources to better identify those offenders who require mental health treatment intervention. 
This program offers important tools for first (police, fire, EMTs) and second responders (mental health providers) so they can collaborate in the development of treatment programs for those with SMI. Add assistance came from SB 853, which requires health plans and health insurers to provide their enrollees with interpreter services and materials translated in their language. The legislation was the first of its kind in the country.
Even with these programs more needs to be done, said Gale. “We need to find the political will to develop a comprehensive long-term plan to assist those with SMI. We have to bring together judges, district attorneys, public defenders, probation officers, first responders, and representative from social service agencies for this purpose.”
More information can be found on NAMI’s website: In the above picture, from left to right, Past-President Barry Verga, Mark Gale, and President Jay Saltzman (Photo by Neal Goldman).