Also known as Laura’s Law, the program allows the County to provide court-ordered treatment along with wraparound services to residents with severe mental illness
SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIF.— The County of Santa Clara has started a new program that provides temporary court-ordered outpatient care for at-risk individuals with severe mental illness who may not believe they need treatment, and have refused it in the past.
The Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) program – also known as Laura’s Law – began accepting referrals last week. Referrals generally come from family members, loved ones or case workers familiar with an individual and their needs, and treatment is accompanied by wraparound services to best facilitate the client’s recovery.
The goal of AOT is to help individuals who do not recognize the need for treatment, have in the past refused treatment, and are considered at-risk when in the community without supervision. Individuals are in the program temporarily, until they can maintain their own treatment. AOT treatment consists of intensive individual and group clinical services, peer support, intensive case management, housing assistance, 24/7 clinical crisis support and medicine evaluation. It does not mandate medication or inpatient treatment.
“This is just one more important tool friends and families can use when a loved one is suffering with serious mental illness,” said Supervisor Joe Simitian, who chairs the County‘s Health and Hospital Committee. “It’s not a cure-all, it’s not a panacea. Sometimes, though, there are folks who are too ill to know that they’re ill and need help. Getting them the help they need and deserve is what this new effort is all about.”
Supervisor Otto Lee serves as vice chair of the Board’s Health and Hospital Committee and also supports the program. He said the program was long overdue and will prevent people who need treatment from repeatedly ending up in custody.
“This will help our residents with the most urgent mental health needs and avoid the revolving door of our jail system,” Supervisor Lee said.
The County created 11 new positions for the program including a psychologist, social workers and support staff. AOT is expected to initially serve approximately 50 clients. Ahead of the launch, staff have had extensive meetings with community partners and service providers, and an advisory committee of community stakeholders has been formed to offer ongoing program improvement recommendations.
“We are very excited to offer this new program to assist some of the most vulnerable in our community, and eager to see positive outcomes for clients served as well as relief for their loved ones,” said Sherri Terao, County of Santa Clara Director of Behavioral Health Services.
To be eligible for AOT, a client must be 18 or older and have a severe mental illness, and be unlikely to survive in the community based on a clinical determination. They must have a history of noncompliance with treatment, or offered and refused to voluntarily participate in a treatment plan. For a complete list of eligibility criteria and who can petition for AOT, visit https://bhsd.sccgov.org/get-help/assisted-outpatient-treatment-aot?mc_cid=cd0bb324ac&mc_eid=2715702a8a. Those who think someone needs assistance through AOT can call the Behavioral Health Call Center at 1-800-704-0900 and select option #7 to speak with an AOT team member.
ABOUT THE COUNTY OF SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA
The County of Santa Clara government serves a diverse, multi-cultural population of 1.9 million residents in Santa Clara County, California, making it more populous than 14 states in the U.S. The County provides essential services to its residents, including public health protection, environmental stewardship, medical services through the County of Santa Clara Health System, child and adult protection services, homelessness prevention and solutions, roads, park services, libraries, emergency response to disasters, protection of minority communities and those under threat, access to a fair criminal justice system, and many other public benefits.
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Media Contacts: Laurel Anderson/Eric Kurhi, Office of Communications and Public Affairs, (408) 299-5119, [email protected]; Joy Alexiou, County of Santa Clara Health System, 408-(408) 885-4164, [email protected]
Posted: February 23, 2022