California AB 1421 and how it helps by Susan Schwartz and Tracey Yokas
Ventura County residents: Good News!
"Assist" kicks off on January 30, 2017.
Assist is Ventura County's implementation of Laura's Law. Laura's Law is California legislation (AB 1421) that provides for court-ordered outpatient treatment for adults with mental illness who meet certain criteria.
Assist is meant to help seriously mentally ill adults who, for various reasons, are not seeking out services to stabilize their illness. Having a coordinated team of professionals from the court system and the behavioral health system reach out to this segment of our population is meant to reduce crises and hospitalizations.
Instead of an individual falling off the radar of the behavioral health system between crises, Assist allows for team members to continue to reach out to someone in need of intervention in hopes to gain his/her trust and agree to engage in services that can lead to recovery. Assist will NOT force people to take medications. Assist will NOT use restraints or place individuals in locked institutions.
Whether a family member, friend, or professional from the court or health system is the point of contact, just knowing that someone cares greatly increases the chances of recovery for a person with a mental illness. So Assist increases the number of support options available to a potential client.
An online referral form will become available for anyone to fill out to make Ventura County Behavioral Health aware of an individual who seems to be a candidate for Assist. However, there are strict criteria for who the referral source can be, as well as for who will be eligible for Assist.
Ventura County received a government grant of approx. 1 million dollars per year, for 4 years, to implement Assist.
Tuesday evening, at NAMI VC's general membership meeting, a distinguished panel of experts from Behavioral Health, Superior Court, Public Defenders Office, Telecare, and RISE, who were involved in Assist implementation, presented a discussion about how the law is expected to work. More information is sure to become available as implementation progresses.
As a whole, the team repeatedly made one point: Make the call. Regardless of whether or not you are sure your loved one, friend, family member is eligible for services, make the call. Let the team make the determination. This service is available to help our community. Use it. While the individual may not meet criteria for Assist, that does not mean all is lost. Other services may be available through RISE. Make the call. Have the team get involved.
The numbers to call are:
Usual Business Hours RISE 805-981-4233.
After business hours you will reach the crisis team, and this is a toll free number: 866-998-2243.
For additional information, please contact NAMI Ventura County at 805-641-2426.
Directly below, in Documents to Download, you can download a copy of the Assist Screening Form, a one page extract from AB 1421 that contains basic information about the law, a PDF of the Assist Flowchart, and a one page document about RISE and its referral system (for general information purposes only).