The purpose of mental health conservatorships is to provide individualized treatment, supervision, and living arrangements for people who are seriously mentally ill and are not among the majority of mentally ill persons that agree to treatment, while still protecting their individual rights. The Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health (LACDMH) provides an informative 2013 guide titled HELPING YOUR LOVED ONE. And the Judicial Council of California provides a 2016 HANDBOOK FOR CONSERVATORS.
A mental health conservatorship, which is sometimes called an LPS Conservatorship because it is governed by the Lanterman-Petris-Short Act, can involve confinement in a locked psychiatric facility, which means the person is deprived of personal liberty. Accordingly, there are strict legal procedures and laws that must be followed by doctors and hospitals and that involve review and monitoring by a court.
Starting a Conservatorship
Family members or other private parties cannot start a mental health conservatorship. In Los Angeles County, because it is based upon grave disability as a result of a mental disorder, referrals to the Public Guardian’s Office are accepted only from mental health professionals designated to evaluate for both: (a) the grave disability (inability to provide for one’s basic personal needs for food, clothing or shelter); and (b) the mental disorder. The two sources for qualified professionals to complete psychiatric evaluations and make referrals to the Public Guardian’s Office are:
- Private and public acute psychiatric hospitals officially designated by the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health to treat involuntary patients.
- The Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health and its regional offices.
If you, as a relative, friend, or other concerned citizen, believe a person needs an LPS Conservatorship, Los Angeles Court website directs that the proper course to follow is to contact the appropriate source and request an evaluation for grave disability and referral to the Public Guardian as follows:
If the patient is in an acute psychiatric hospital designated by the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health to accept and treat involuntary patients, contact the treating therapist at the hospital and request an evaluation for conservatorship.
If the patient is living at home or residing in any other facility, contact the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health’s Regional Office that covers the area where the patient is located and request a conservatorship evaluation.
How it Works
When a person is under an LPS Conservatorship, then the California Welfare and Institutions Law 5358.5 allows the conservator to place the conservatee in treatment at the discretion of the conservator. This prevents the person who is afflicted with mental illness from having to decompensate to the point of harm to self or others but rather to get back into recovery as soon as possible.
For more information, see the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health FAQ Page on Conservatorship.
NAMI South Bay is within LACDMH Service Area VIII (562) 435-2337.