Los Angeles Mental Health Court Has Moved

Effective Thursday, Nov. 3, 2016, due to structural damage to the Mental Health Courthouse, the courthouse, located at 1150 N. San Fernando Rd., Los Angeles, is closed until further notice. All courthouse operations, including hearings, have been temporarily relocated to:

Metropolitan Courthouse
1945 S. Hill St., Los Angeles 90007

Calendars are relocated as follows:

  • Mental Health Department 95 to Metro Department 69, Room 612
  • Mental Health Department 95A to Metro Department 70, Room 401
  • Mental Health Department 95B to Metro Department 64, Room 400

Public parking is available underground

To enter the building take the elevator from the garage to the first floor and pass through security to access the building elevators.

Metropolitan Courthouse

Meeting Tonight about Special Needs Trusts

Attorney Karen R. Holt will speak at our June 15, 2015, meeting about Special Needs Trust. Karen has spoken at our meetings in the past and her information has been very valuable to our members. If you don’t already have one, it will be your chance to learn about special needs trusts. If you have one established for your loved one, it will be your opportunity to gain current information and updates about special needs trusts. Information is very critical to avoiding loss of government benefits. You won’t want to miss this informative presentation at 7:30 PM at the First Lutheran Church.

In addition to Special Needs Planning, Karen’s practice includes Comprehensive Estate Plans, Business Formation, Real-Estate Transactions, Trust Administration and Probate. Special Needs Planning, in particular, involves advice and documents for complicated issues such as how to leave inheritance or gifts to a loved one who suffers from a disability or advanced age and whom may need long-term care.  Proper planning provides the necessary protection to insure the best financial and medical benefits available while enhancing quality of life for those family members who may not be able to plan for themselves and need our help the most.

The meeting will be preceded by Caring and Sharing Group Support at 6 p.m. in the Fireside Chat Room. The Speaker Meeting will begin at 7:30 p.m. First Lutheran Church is at 2900 Carson Street, in Torrance, California.

“Dangerousness” Should Guide Policy–not Mental Illness or Gun Ownership

From Psychiatric News Alert: About 8.9 percent of individuals who self-report as having patterns of impulsive angry behavior own guns, and 1.5 percent carry them outside the house, according to an analysis of the National Comorbidity Study Replication study. The study was posted online April 8 in the journal Behavioral Sciences and the Law.

Among those respondents, said Duke University Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences Jeffrey Swanson, Ph.D., and colleagues.

“Persons with impulsive angry behavior who carried guns were significantly more likely to meet diagnostic criteria for a wide range of mental disorders, including depression, bipolar and anxiety disorders, PTSD, intermittent explosive disorder, pathological gambling, eating disorder, alcohol and illicit drug use disorders, and a range of personality disorders.”

However, most of those people are legally entitled to own firearms because they have never been involuntarily committed to a psychiatric hospital. Reorienting public policy away from mental illness and toward dangerousness might reduce injury and death by firearms, the authors note. Current approaches to restricting gun access of people with mental disorders have no impact on most of this group, coauthor Paul Appelbaum, M.D., a professor of psychiatry at Columbia University, told Psychiatric News.

“We need to reorient our firearms policies toward limiting gun possession by people who lack behavioral control—for example, by taking guns away from people who behave in dangerous ways—rather than focusing excessively on people with serious mental illnesses, as we do today.”

For more in Psychiatric News about dangerousness as a standard for firearms policy, see “Violence Risk, Not Mental Illness, Should Guide Gun Access.” Also, see “Screening for Violence Risk in Military Veterans: Predictive Validity of a Brief Clinical Tool” in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

Governor Brown Signs Bill Allowing Families to Seek Gun Restraining Order

California will become the first state that allows family members to ask a judge to remove firearms from a relative who appears to pose a threat.

The new legislation responded to the deadly rampage in May 2014 near University of California, Santa Barbara. Relatives of the victims and other supporters of the bill said the parents of 22 year old Elliot Rodger were thwarted in their attempts to seek help for their troubled son before the rampage.

Weeks before the shooting, Elliot Rodger’s parents had his therapist contact Santa Barbara County mental health officials. Sheriff deputies talked to Elliott Rodger but never entered his apartment or checked to see if he owned guns. The Sheriff’s decided that he was not a threat to himself or others and took no further action.

Elliot Rodger later wrote that had deputies searched his room, they might have found guns that the police said he used to shoot three people after stabbing to death three others.

If you have guns in your home

 please store them safely.

Psychiatrist Exposes Violent Environment inside California’s Napa State Hospital

Dr. Stephen Seager, M.D. has written a book “Behind the Gates of Gomorrah”; which recounts his rookie year in Unit C, at Napa State Hospital.

In praise for the book Dr. Judy Melinek asks:

“What happens when the judicial system concentrates a population of criminally insane men with nothing to lose and no compunction  against murderous violence behind razor wire and steel doors? Dr. Seager reveals both the courage and the empathy demanded of the staff at this hospital without healing and a prison without guards.”

The book is available in Kindle format as well as Hardcover.

L.A. County Unable to Avert Federal Oversight of Jails

Federal officials have rejected a last-ditch effort by Los Angeles County to maintain control over its jails and will move forward with a consent decree to address longstanding problems with mental health care in the troubled facilities.

In a letter sent to the county last week, the Department of Justice said that despite some progress, it remained “concerned about the sustainability and future durability of the reforms.”

The county jails have been monitored by federal officials for the past 12 years under an agreement requiring improvements in treatment of the mentally ill. On June 4, 2014 the Department of Justice announced it would seek court oversight of the jails, citing a dramatic increase in inmate suicides.

In a June 4, 2014 letter describing “dimly lit, vermin-infested, noisy, unsanitary, cramped and crowded” living conditions that exacerbated inmates’ mental distress. After suicides more than doubled, from four in 2012 to 10 the following year, jail officials did little to address the situation, the letter said, calling many of the suicides preventable.

NAMI Los Angeles Coordinating Council has been advocating for better conditions in the jails and with the leadership of Mark Gale and Brittany Weissman NAMI L.A. County Executive Director and the LACC Advocacy Committee things seem to be moving forward.

Mental Illness Program Could Transform L.A. County Justice System

From the LA Times

Los Angeles officials announced Wednesday the launch of an alternative sentencing program aimed at diverting mentally ill, low-level offenders from jail into treatment, a project they hope will signal a dramatic shift for the county’s criminal justice system..

The $756,000 initiative marks one of the county’s most significant attempts to find a better way to treat people who have mental illness and wind up in the criminal justice system by offering them transitional housing, medical treatment and job-hunting help. Officials say the pilot program will start in Van Nuys and initially help 50 people at a time, but it is expected to spread throughout the county and could accommodate up to 1,000 people at once.

The program is designed to reduce jail overcrowding and end a revolving door for offenders with mental illness who find themselves incarcerated for relatively minor crimes.

“It is time to stop bouncing people who are mentally ill and genuinely sick between the streets and our jails,” said Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey. “This is an unconscionable waste of human life and money.”

Read the full article HERE

Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey, City Atty. Mike Feuer and L.A. County Superior Court Presiding Judge David Wesley, right, at a news conference on the pilot mental health diversion program, which they support. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)