There are some new laws in the works that I would like to discuss and how they pertain to LPS conservatorship.
AB-2156 Mental health services: gravely disabled
This bill would address the issue surrounding the issue of grave disability. Currently the legal definition for grave disability addresses whether the conservatee can manage their own food, clothing, and or shelter. The law does not account for whether the conservatee can make sound decisions about their medical care. If the conservatee makes a decision to refuse medical care despite it being in their best interest, they cannot be deemed gravely disabled. This bill seeks to impose conservatorship on those who meet the criteria for grave disability based on refusal of medical care. Some providers find this new bill worrisome because the conservatee’s rights may be further limited by the mere fact that the conservatee has a history of refusing medical treatment in their best interest. However, those opposed to the bill must bear in mind that they law means to use conservatorship as a wholesome approach as in the mental health conservatorship clinician must remember other factors such as noncompliance, past hospitalizations, inability to care for the trifecta of needs, and ability to make sound judgements about medical care. Currently the law stipulates that medical decision making is not imperative for a conservatorship. The conservatee is judged on their ability to understand whether they need treatment, accept that they have a mental illness, and that they need medication to function. This bill naturally follows in that the latter are signs of whether the conservatee can actually understand the nature of their illness and make sound medical judgements based on their understanding. Therefore, I concur with the bill.
In regards to the conservatorship laws SB-1045
This bill addresses whether chronic homelessness is grounds for involuntary detention and subsequent conservatorship. The idea that homelessness alone can be a qualifier for conservatorship worries a great number of people as they find that homelessness should not be considered grave disability. They believe that many people become homeless due to poor circumstances. However, policy makers argue that the conservatorship investigator would consider all factors before initiating an LPS conservatorship.. In addition, individuals who have had frequent interactions with the police and mental health professionals but not had further action taken may be considered eligible for LPS conservatorship. This poses as problematic as the individual who has had police interaction frequent times may have had such interactions as a result of where they live. Take for example, one of the areas of San Diego with many homeless persons is east village. Here is houses the San Diego projects. There is a lot of crime such as drug dealings, illicit behaviour, and mentally ill. However, the regular people may find themselves wrapped up in the criminal activities that run rampant in these areas. Through they may not be mentally ill, they can be marked by the police. Homeless persons can also resort to drugs and alcohol to cope with the rigors and dangers that come with being homeless. These populations are not inherently ill but may be treated as such due to their coping mechanisms. Given that people may argue that they should know better or find healthier outlets but until one has suffered the degradation, shame, danger, and negative pit of being homeless they should not pass judgement. Again this is not to say that all homeless persons are not mentally ill or down on their luck but there are plenty of people who find themselves upon hard times and do not have access to the resources to pull themselves out of the pit of homelessness. Conservatorship would not bring them out of being homeless; rather, it may temporarily house them but once the year is up many find themselves on the streets again right where they started but with the addition of crippling medical bills.
Juvenile Dependency and