League of Women Voters
September 12, 2013
TOPIC – Mental Health
Held at the Point Loma Library
Report of meeting:
When the meeting first started, I was fearful that the attendance would be very low. But by 10:45am there were over 30 people in attendance for this, the first unit meeting of the Pt. Loma League of Women Voters.
Nancy Witt – the co-chair of the meeting – explained that there are different facets to the LWV; There are the unit meetings that take place in all of the 9 units throughout San Diego County. There are “special event” meetings; there are “forums” etc. Today was a “topic” meeting and all of the units were discussing the same topic.
The mayoral race candidates with be presented in a “forum” with the LWV presenting only facts and information – they cannot make any recommendations but they can bring together the candidates, the information and other information for discussion. We were assured that there will be a forum before the mayoral election.
Jeanne Brown, the co-director of the program committee presented us with a “glossary” of definitions as it refers to mental health. The definition, as defined by her handout, of mental health is:
“a state of emotional and psychological well-being in which an individual is able to use his or her cognitive and emotional capabilities, function in society and meet the ordinary demands of everyday life. Basically, a person’s overall emotional and psychological condition.”
Proposition 63 – passed by the voters in 2004, provides for the California Department of Mental Health (DMH) to provide increased funding, personnel and other resources to support county mental health programs and monitor progress toward statewide goals for children, transition age youth, adults, older adults and families. The act addresses a broad continuum of prevention, early intervention and service needs and the necessary infrastructure, technology and training elements. It is funded by a 1% income tax on personal income in excess of $1 million.
Laura’s Law is a California state law that allows for court-ordered assisted outpatient treatment or forced anti-psychotics in most cases. To qualify, the person must have a serious mental illness plus a recent history of psychiatric hospitalizations, jailings or acts, threats or attempts of serious violent behavior towards self or others. To date, San Diego County Supervisors chose not to implement this law. A call to Gregg Cox might shed some light on where the allocated monies are going.
Kendra’s Law – effective since 1999, is a New York State law concerning involuntary outpatient commitment. It grants judges the authority to issue orders that require people who meet certain criteria to regularly undergo psychiatric treatment.
NAMI – the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness.
IHOT – This is San Diego County’s program. It consists of Telecare In-Home Outreach Team is a centralized program offering 3 mobile teams to provide in-home outreach to adults with serious mental illness who are reluctant or resistant to receiving mental health services. It also provides support and education to family members and/or caretakers of the IHOT participants. There are currently three individual teams serving the Central, North Coastal and East County regions of San Diego, with more being added by 2014. Eligible individuals may have a co-occurring substance abuse diagnosis, in addition to a diagnosis of serious mental illness.
A member of the audience asked who to call in case of an emergency. Besides 911, it was suggested that a call be placed to “Up2SD.org” or 1-888-7247240.
My take on the meeting. It was very long and tedious, with no breaks; there were no visuals, just a lot of reading and answering prepared questions. It was difficult for one to retain much of what was asked and what was said. I read an article and was asked to report on it, and even though I tried to summarize it it too was tedious.
The summary follows:
Approximately ½ of adults and 2/3 of adolescents with mental health needs do not get treatment.
For children and adults, the prevalence of serious mental illness varied by income, with much higher rates of mental illness at lower income levels.
There are significant racial and ethnic disparities for incidence of serious mental illness among adults: Native American, multiracial and African American populations experience the highest rates.
Compared to the US, California had a lower overall suicide rate, although it varied considerably within the state by gender, age, race/ethnicity, and region
The Distribution of spending on mental health care in the US has changed dramatically over the past 20 years, with inpatient and residential care spending decreasing, and outpatient care and prescription drug spending increasing.,
The final portion of the meeting was a discussion about the role of San Diego County government in responding to the impact of the seriously mentally ill. There were prepared questions, and even though the answers were provided by the County Mental Health Services, there was some feeling among the audience that the answers were inaccurate. If you are interested in having a copy of those 9 questions, please let me know and I will get them to you.
As I stated earlier, in my opinion there was too much presented in too short a time. There should have been at least one break; there should have been visuals; there was too much reading. Although both Nancy and Jeanne were prepared, there were questions that couldn’t be answered. If a unit topic is being presented 9 different times, I would hope that I was seeing it for the 9th presentation, so that it was firmed up and more relevant. Perhaps my own mental health inadequacy is showing!
Next Meeting: Sept. 21st – Women’s Museum – Liberty Station “Women Speak Up” 9:30-12:00;
Sept. 25th – Lunch at Tom Ham’s – topic is gun safety – $25 advance reservation – 11:30am
Oct. 7th – 1:00 at the Pt. Loma Library – Unit Meeting