The state is overwhelmed with a large need for mental health and ancillary services.
California is a leader among states for many reasons. One of the ways that California steps to the forefront is by introducing programs or initiatives that have not yet been tried in other states. And, given the sheer population size of this state, anything that is done in California is such to have a massive impact almost immediately. One such new program is known as CARE Court, which is an alternative mental health court that has been created with the motivation to treat severe mental illness. While it was only recently launched, there have already been over 100 petitions to the court – a number that is expected to quickly grow into the thousands or tens of thousands.
Although it is very new in practice, there are already some indications of how this new type of court will work in application. As a starting point, only individuals 18 years and older are eligible, and they need to have a valid diagnosis for schizophrenia or related disease. At this time, conditions like depression or addiction do not qualify individuals for the court.
When petitions are received to the CARE Court, it is reviewed and considered on its merits. Those who are deemed eligible for this program are provided with a voluntary plan that they can take part in, which may include things like counseling, housing, medication, and more. It seems certain that the implementation of this court process will evolve over time, but it is already in use and has the potential to deliver help to those who need it immediately.
The depths of the mental health crisis in California and across the country seem to know no bottom, so it’s important to provide as many different resources as possible to those who need help the most. Through this program, supporters see the possibility that many homeless individuals who have nowhere else to turn will be able to get the help they so badly need.
Of course, any kind of ambitious program like this is sure to have its share of critics. In this case, there are those who are worried that the program may be coercive, and some feel like it has been rushed into action without properly considering all aspects of the program before putting it to use.
CARE Court is only one piece of the bigger attempt being made by Governor Newsom to address the overwhelming mental health issues faced by the state. The mental health system in place in the state of California has been overwhelmed for some time, which is why a proposal to borrow more than $6 billion to work on adding treatment beds and upgrading the system is set to go to a vote in 2024. It’s yet to be seen if that vote will pass to further strengthen the mental health treatment available in California, but CARE Court is already underway, and it promises to at least offer some relief to people who are going through a difficult time in life.