For Immediate ReleaseFebruary 02, 2016
County Health Director does not endorse adoption of AB 1421 at this time
San Rafael, CA – Today the Marin County Board of Supervisors heard a proposal to expand current programs to residents with serious and chronic mental health issues in an effort to improve service and safety for all.
Dr. Grant Colfax, Director of Marin County Health and Human Services (HHS), provided the Supervisors with a summary of state Assembly Bill 1421, the California law that allows for court-ordered assisted outpatient treatment for a small subset of people with serious mental illness. AB 1421, sometimes called Laura’s Law, provides court-ordered assisted outpatient treatment program for adults with serious mental illness with repeated crisis events who are not voluntarily engaging in mental health services. The law, which would have to be enacted by the Board of Supervisors, is not a substitute for current programs that provide involuntary treatment to patients with mental illness at risk to themselves or others.
Marin HHS officials convened an inter-departmental workgroup, received feedback from community stakeholders and completed an extensive review of scientific literature regarding the law’s efficacy in preparation for eventually making a recommendation to the Supervisors.
HHS concluded there is not sufficient evidence that AB 1421 programs are effective, and Colfax presented a summary of the workgroup findings Tuesday. Additionally, it was estimated that very few people in Marin County – estimates range from five to 14 – would be eligible for such a program. HHS instead recommended expanding current mental health programs with stronger evidence of effectiveness.
“When you look at the evidence carefully and without bias, it is clear that voluntary programs are able to improve outcomes for those with serious mental illness,” Colfax said. “There is insufficient evidence the addition of a court order helps people. Expanding evidence-based services is our focus.”
HHS plans to expand Full Service Partnerships, which already provide wraparound services for homeless, post-incarcerated, youths, and older adults with mental illness. Colfax recommended a family-oriented Full Service Partnership be added to the current scope of services. Additionally, there are plans to increase residential care, strengthen Psychiatric Emergency Services and fully implement and evaluate three new programs aimed at responding to people in crisis. HHS has set a goal to increase residential treatment capacity in 2016 by adding 10-12 beds with a long-term goal of adding 75 beds over the next five years to meet anticipated needs.
HHS also proposed to reassess adoption of the law in response to emerging favorable scientific evidence or data from other counties that have implemented AB 1421. HHS will also work closely with people potentially eligible for AB 1421 and their families to do “whatever it takes” to ensure they access timely and appropriate care, Colfax said.
More information on the staff report and recommendations can be seen at www.marinhhs.org/mhsus.
Dr. Grant ColfaxDirectorHealth and Human Services
20 N. San Pedro RoadSan Rafael, CA 94903(415) 473-3696Email: Dr. Grant ColfaxMarin HHS website