“Bed shortage forces L.A. County mental health staff to rely on police” – LA Times

Molly Hennessy-Fiske of the LA Times writes about the effect current laws have on the ability of Mental Health workers to effectively assist the mentally ill. 

Alarmed by reports that Los Angeles County mental health staff — hobbled by a countywide shortage of beds for the mentally ill — are increasingly forwarding emergency calls to police, commissioners overseeing the department on Thursday asked that a plan to end the practice be presented by early next month.

Department of Mental Health workers have turned to law enforcement officials because hospitals are required by law to take emergency mental health patients transported by police. If a county mental health worker brings a person in for treatment, facilities are not compelled to accept them.

URM’s Andy Bales talks about the importance of utilizing Mental Health professionals in dealing with patients on skid row.

Advocates for the mentally ill and the homeless say that there are not enough hybrid teams to go around and that police who respond alone can aggravate emergencies.

“Folks who are trained to deal with people who are having mental health issues have the experience to calm things down,” said the Rev. Andrew Bales, chief executive ofUnion Rescue Mission on skid row. “Somebody who’s distressed is probably going to panic when they see the police. I’ve been in that situation where I’ve been trying to help someone and they became upset when the police arrived.”

Click here to read the article.