California Governor Gavin Newsom (D) signed a bill that could force residents with mental illnesses to get treatments, according to The Hill.
Newsom signed Senate Bill 43 on Oct. 10, which expanded the “gravely ill” definition to include residents without access to treat mental illness or unhealthy substance usage. Introduced by Sen. Susan Talamantes Eggman, the legislation was hoped to help tackle the homelessness crisis in the state as local officials complained they couldn’t force displaced Californians to receive help. The Golden State has more than 170,000 unhoused people and comprises 30% of the total U.S. homeless population.
Newsom claimed the bill will help ensure no one is left behind.
“California is undertaking a major overhaul of our mental health system. The mental health crisis affects us all, and people who need the most help have been too often overlooked,” the governor explained. “We are working to ensure no one falls through the cracks and that people get the help they need and the respect they deserve.”
Eggman said the new law, effective in 2024, would update an old legislature called the Lanterman-Petris-Short (LPS) Act, passed in 1967 to end involuntary confinement. She stated that LPS “established strong and important civil liberty protections to ensure individual rights are protected. Like many things that are decades old, it has long been time to make some adjustments to the law to address the realities we are seeing today on our streets.”
The popular governor is pushing the law as a continued effort to reframe the state’s mental health system. According to the Associated Press, Newsom’s proposal, which voters will vote on in March 2024, would overstep how counties in California pay for mental and behavioral health programs, and borrow over $6 billion to pay for 10,000 new mental health treatment beds. In 2022, Newsom signed another law that created a court process where loved ones of people diagnosed with specific illnesses like schizophrenia can ask a judge to come up with a treatment plan.
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