How much longer can we humanely avert our eyes, ignoring the mentally incapacitated people languishing on our streets? In a recent poll conducted by Suffolk University, 90% of respondents believed that the U.S. is facing a “full-blown mental health crisis”, and in a California Health Policy Survey, Californians’ identified their top priority policy as ‘ensuring people with severe mental health disorders can get treatment” (2020).
Californians have an opportunity to address this seemingly bottomless crisis. The Community Assistance, Recovery, and Empowerment Act (CARE), also known as Senate Bill 1338, empowers family members, first responders, and behavioral health providers with an avenue to petition a civil court on behalf of a loved one or community member that is incapable of caring for themselves. This potentially allows families and local communities the ability to initiate a CARE plan to provide behavioral health care, including medication, housing, and other services, to adults with psychotic disorders and people who lack medical decision-making capacity. A critically important part of the plan is the appointment of both a public defender and a personal advocate to help guide participants and to ensure individual rights are protected.
Californians across the political spectrum agree that it is time to make a bold commitment to transforming our broken mental health system to help our state’s most vulnerable residents and we have an opportunity to do so now. Arguably, California has not seen meaningful mental health reforms since 1972, partially because we continue to allow a quest for perfection to negate a commitment to incremental progress.
As diverse members of Riverside Mayor Patricia Lock Dawson’s Bipartisan Forum, we urge you to join us in supporting this legislation. Please contact your state representative this week to urge a yes vote on SB 1338.
About the Mayor’s Bipartisan Forum
In October 2021, Riverside’s Mayor, Patricia Lock Dawson, convened a group of 14 community members with differing political ideologies to help drive solutions for the crises amongst those in homeless situations with serious mental health conditions. The group felt passionately that state-level mental health reforms were needed, including tools that would allow families to compel their family members with psychotic and addiction disorders into treatment. The CARE Court legislation (SB 1338) is a step forward in this direction.
Dr. Cheryl-Marie Osborne Hansberger, Chani Beeman, Steve Johnson, Ana Miramontes, Rico Alderette, Tisa Rodriguez, Chuck Avila, Sheila Kay Riley, Ruben Ayala, Janice Rooths, Keith Sklarsky, Ana Lee, Dr. Regina Patton-Stell