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(a) California Welfare and Institutions Code §§ 5345-5349.5, also known as "Laura's Law," authorizes counties to implement Assisted Outpatient Treatment ("AOT") to obtain court-ordered mental health treatment for individuals with mental illness for whom other methods of entering and maintaining treatment have been unsuccessful.
(b) AOT provides treatment through community-based, mobile, recovery-oriented, multidisciplinary, highly trained mental health teams with a staff-to-client ratio of no more than 10 clients per team member.
(c) Several independent studies of similar programs in other states cited in a background paper prepared by the Treatment Advocacy Center show that AOT promotes long-term treatment compliance, and reduces the incidence and duration of hospitalizations, homelessness, arrests, incarcerations, violent episodes, and the victimization of individuals with mental illness by others, while also relieving caregiver stress.
(d) These same studies show that states and municipalities that have successfully implemented AOT realized cost savings in their respective mental health, criminal justice, and emergency care systems.
(e) According to research cited in The Resident's Journal, a publication of The American Journal of Psychiatry, almost half of the individuals with a severe mental illness in the United States are untreated, and almost half of those individuals suffer from anosognosia (the inability to recognize one's own mental illness) and possess significant deficits in self-awareness.
(f) This same research also finds a clear link between lack of insight regarding one's own mental illness and the inability to adhere to treatment, which results in poorer clinical outcomes, illness relapse, hospitalization, and suicide attempts.
(g) For severely mentally ill individuals who are unable to maintain a consistent voluntary treatment regime, AOT provides a means to assist and support them through a structured treatment program.
(h) Before an AOT program may be implemented in a county under California Welfare and Institutions Code §§ 5345-5349.5, the county must authorize the application of the program in the county by appropriate legislation and make a finding that no voluntary mental health program serving adults, and no children's mental health program will be reduced as a result of implementing AOT.
(Added by Ord. 154-14, File No. 140557, App. 7/22/2014, Eff. 8/21/2014)