Meeting Tonight – Local Psychiatric Mobile Response Teams

At tonight’s meeting, Linda Boyd, RN, BSN, MN, LAC Department of Mental Health Program Head for the Law Enforcement Psychiatric Mobile Response Teams, will speak on the various psychiatric mobile response teams in the South Bay. This will be an opportunity to learn about the various psychiatric emergency teams in our area, how families should connect and interact with the teams. Ms. Boyd has extensive experience with these type of emergency response teams that are often called by family members in time of crisis. You won’t want to miss this important presentation on a service many of us have used and may use in the future.

The meeting begins at 7:30 PM, Monday, July 21 in the Fellowship Hall at First Lutheran Church, 2900 Carson Street in Torrance.

Linda Boyd was the co-creator and co-founder of four collaborative teams, which combines a law enforcement officer and a mental health clinician responding to 911 calls involving the mentally ill or persons in an emotional crisis:

  • LA County Sheriff, Mental Evaluation Team (MET)
  • LAPD, Systemwide Mental Assessment Response Team (SMART)
  • Long Beach PD, Long Beach Mental Evaluation Team (LBMET)
  • Pasadena PD, Homeless Outreach and Psychiatric Evaluation Team (HOPE)

Ms. Boyd is also Program Manager for the PEl School Threat Assessment Response Team (START). She holds a Master in Nursing Degree from UCLA with an emphasis on Community Mental Health. Ms. Boyd has conducted numerous presentations, training sessions and workshops on Critical Incident and Disaster Stress, Suicide Intervention, Mental Health 101 for Law Enforcement, as well as the Development of Collaborative Law Enforcement Mental Health Teams.

The Caring and Sharing Support Group meeting will be 6:00 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. in the Fireside Room at First Lutheran Church immediately before the general meeting. Caring and Sharing is a support group for family members of persons with a severe mental illness. We look forward to seeing you.

NAMI California’s Statement about The Santa Barbara Tragedy: What Communities and Families Can Do

Sacramento, CA, May 28, 2014 / Jessica Cruz, Executive Director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, California (NAMI CA) has issued the following statement:

NAMI California shares in the sadness over Friday’s tragedy in Isla Vista, California. NAMI California is an organization of individuals and families, whose lives are deeply affected by mental illness. We extend our sympathies to the families of those who lost their lives or were wounded. We are also sorry for the pain experienced by the family of the person responsible.

When tragedies occur, clear facts emerge slowly.  However, the immediate focus on mental illness often adds to the stigma that surrounds them. NAMI California has repeatedly called for action to erase the stigma of seeking help for mental illness.

Acts of violence are exceptional.  The likelihood of violence by people with mental illness is low.  In fact, the U.S. Surgeon General has reported that “the overall contribution of mental disorders to the total level of violence in society is exceptionally small.”

Families and communities must work together to ensure adequate and culturally competent services are available to everyone, free of stigma and discrimination. NAMI California praises Senate President pro Tem Darrel Steinberg for addressing key issues today in his press conference. His suggestions to improve the mental health system by reforming sentencing, providing meaningful mental health treatment through the training of prison personnel and law enforcement; and promoting humane releases through Parole Out-Patient Clinics are taking the important next steps in ensuring an adequate response to the mental health crisis in our state.

NAMI California is also taking steps to combat these challenges, our innovative programs such as Provider Education work to reduce stigma and discrimination and better train frontline responders by helping them understand the perspectives of families and individuals living with a mental illness.

NAMI California, its 67 local affiliates and over 19,000 members look forward to being an active part of these solutions. In nearly every community in our state, NAMI members work every day to ensure Californians have access to mental health services and support. We will not rest until that work is complete.

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Sonoma County MST & NAMI!

By Lauren Peterson, NAMI Sonoma County

I am Lauren Petersen from NAMI Sonoma County. In our coun ty, NAMI is fortunate to partner with a group of dedicated professionals to deliver a very remarkable crisis resource that works.  It is called our Mobile Support Team, or MST.

After many requests and strong public support, the County of Sonoma’s Behavioral Health Division partnered with police departments and sheriff’s organization to form the Mobile Support Team. And NAMI is part of it! This team, made up of licensed mental health clinicians and certified substance abuse specialists, provides field-based support to law enforcement. This means that when law enforcement encounters a mental health crisis, or even a situation that might have evolved from mental health challenges, they can call MST to the scene for help in making the right assessments and coming to the best outcome for everyone involved.

There’s something else about MST that distinguishes it from all other similar programs… peer and family support! In my work as a NAMI staff member, part of my job is as the Family Support role with the Mobile Support Team. After MST meets a family out in the field, I will follow up with them and provide a direct link to NAMI’s family programs as well as any other resource they might need as they takes steps away from this crisis.

That family can know that I understand what they are going through, as I am a family member of someone with mental health issues and an individual with a couple mental health diagnoses myself. I continue MST’s goals of promoting safety and emotional stability, minimizing negative outcomes, helping community members obtain sufficient support and treatment, and prevent overly intrusive intervention.

But I can also help fill in the gaps. At NAMI, we all know that family members are often the first to recognize the signs of a disorder and the first to offer support, but also the first to feel “in the dark”.  By referring folks over, MST gives families the benefit of finding out right away that they are not alone, they can find support, and they can find answers. It’s my honor to continue working with this fantastic team and providing that direct link for families. And recently, I was so proud to present a NAMI presentation beside an individual whose family I met through MST, while she talked about her lived experience with mental health!

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Tips for Helping Someone with Depression

From NAMI California: Suffering from depression is a serious health issue – one that affects between 15 and 17 million Americans every day. Thankfully, a number of different treatment options are now available that can help those suffering from depression overcome their problems and get their life back to where it should be. While medication, healthy lifestyle options, and counseling can all have an influence on one’s depression, one of the most important things for anyone looking to combat their depression is to have a solid support system in place. 

That support system should be made up of friends and family who love them and can offer the kind of support that is needed. If you’re one of the many who know someone who is combating depression, you’ll likely find yourself in the position of being a part of a support system. This isn’t something to become stressed or panicked about, however. As long as you understand the basics of helping provide support to a loved one, you can help them overcome their depression in a significant way. 

There are a few tips that can help you provide the highest level of support possible, and understanding them will ensure that you give your loved one everything they need to overcome their mental illness. 

Here are some of the keys to being an effective member of a support system:

• Be Patient – It’s important to understand that the problems your loved one is suffering from are very real and not just imaginary. You’ll need to be patient and understanding of their struggle, not judgmental. 

• Motivate Them – A big part of recovery from depression is getting active and leading a healthy lifestyle, but it can be hard for sufferers to find the motivation to do so. Help them by providing motivation, offering to participate in activities with them, and more. 

• Don’t Offer Advice – One of the biggest issues that depression sufferers face is the constant barrage of advice from their loved ones. While it is almost always well-intentioned, the fact is that telling them your opinions on how to deal with what they’re feeling won’t usually help – it will only add to the problem. Instead, simply support them in what they’re doing and working through. It’s a better solution, with much better results. 

As a loved one, you’ll be a key part of someone’s battle against depression. The points above can help you give them the support they need to win that battle for good. We can help as well. For more information, contact us at NAMI California today. 

Please consider joining NAMI. We have free education classes,
we advocate for mental health and we have support.

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60 Minutes Highlights Problem of Lack of Mental Health Services

CLICK HERE to see the CBS News 60 Minutes segment aired last night, “Nowhere to Go: Mentally ill youth in crisis,” that dramatically captured attention across the US.

“Last November 19th, Virginia State Senator Creigh Deeds was slashed and stabbed repeatedly by his own son. Gus Deeds was 24 years old and had been struggling with mental illness. He and his father had been in an emergency room just hours before the attack but didn’t get the help that they needed. The story of what went wrong with his medical care exposes a problem in the way that America handles mental health. It’s a failure that came to the fore with the murders at Sandy Hook Elementary School.”

Similar failure and preventable tragedies happen here in Los Angeles County.

“Even when patients are admitted to the hospital, “they keep them until they are OK.  But OK usually means—OK for the moment. Typically, insurance companies pay for this care only as long as the patients are – quote — at “imminent risk” of harming themselves or others.”

This is also true of Los Angeles County.

“Many patients need care for months or years. But there are few facilities of that kind, they’re expensive, and often insurance won’t cover them. So kids in crisis spin in the emergency room’s revolving door.”

English: Downtown Los Angeles as seen from my ...

English: Downtown Los Angeles as seen from my American Airlines flight from Japan. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With your help and the full implementation of California’s AB 1421, Laura’s Law, this will not be true of Los Angeles County. Write your LA County Supervisor.  Ask them to support full implementation of AB 1421, Laura’s Law in LA County!  To find your supervisor CLICK HERE.

In addition, get your neighbors and friends to write.  Ask your church, homeowners association and other organizations you are affiliated with to write a letter to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors supporting the full implementation of AB 1421, Laura’s Law.  Letters to the full Board of Supervisors can be sent to:  Executive Office of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, 500 W. Temple St, Ste 383, Los Angeles, CA 90012 or executiveoffice@bos.lacounty.gov.
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Homeless in the Valley get Needed Help

A view of the San Fernando Valley in Los Angel...

A view of the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles, California, from Brand Park in Glendale. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

About 54,000 people were counted as homeless in Los Angeles County this year, an 18% increase compared with the last survey 2011, according to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority. About 15% of the county’s homeless are from the San Fernando Valley, which also has an increase, especially among families.

To help the homeless, Zev Yaroslavsky (LA County Supervisor) championed Project 50 in 2010, an initiative to identify Skid Row’s 50 most vulnerable and chronically homeless families, and get them housing, medical care, mental health counseling and substance abuse treatment so they can live off the streets. Didi Hirsh is an extension of Project 50, the President and Chief Executive Officer, Kita S. Curry, said the new wing at Project 50 will help 60 women with children for six months at a time. Curry said that “People who are homeless will likely succeed if they have a home first.”

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Police Training Increases Chance that People with Mental Illness will get Needed Care

Rethink Mental Illness

Rethink Mental Illness (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With lawsuits and frequent allegations of brutal and insensitive treatment of people with mental illnesses, many communities and law-enforcement agencies are now, appropriately, discussing and/or implementing better training. According to the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, an advocacy group for people with mental illness, there are about 300 police departments around the country with active training programs. The Bazelon Center’s position is that what’s really needed are community services where people with mental illness can get treatment and support, so that crises can be avoided in the first place. That goal seems do-able and can be (and is) partially incorporated into some police training. For instance, police officers with Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training not only know more about mental illness than their untrained counterparts but are more likely to obtain professional help for people with mental disorders when encountering them in the course of their work.

Recent studies show that CIT training certainly improves officers’ knowledge, attitudes, and skills regarding mental illness, writes Michael Compton, M.D., M.P.H., of the Department of Psychiatry at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, and colleagues in two related online articles, here and here, in Psychiatric Services in Advance. The greatest effect size was for de-escalation skills, which are particularly important.

“The ‘criminalization’ of mental illnesses may be prominently related to impulsivity or emotionally motivated responses [by police] to perceived provocation, rather than to untreated symptoms alone.”

CIT-trained officers are also more likely after encounters to refer or transport subjects to treatment sites. This is a big step, and it is especially true when the officers needed physical force to control the individual. In those cases, they are more likely to refer to services rather than to arrest, suggesting CIT training serves its intended purpose as a form of prebooking diversion from the criminal justice system.