A controversial mental health program launched in Orange County and Riverside County on Monday, bringing together city employees and county representatives.
Under the CARE Court program, judges review petitions for treatment, which may encompass medication, therapy, and housing. Participants are enrolled in a one-year plan, with an option for renewal. While CARE Court primarily focuses on individuals experiencing homelessness and severe mental illness, it is open to a wider demographic, with petitions accepted from family members or roommates.
The initiative, designed to aid individuals aged 18 and older diagnosed with psychotic disorders, has sparked both support and opposition.
Supporters argue that the program is essential for protecting individuals who may struggle to survive independently in the community due to their mental health conditions.
"It means preventing individuals from becoming homeless while suffering from severe mental illness," said Mayor Patricia Lock Dawson of Riverside.
Critics express concerns that CARE Court could compel individuals into treatment against their will.
The program also aims to reduce the reliance on jails for mental health services.
California is gearing up for the statewide launch of the CARE Court program in 2024, marking a significant overhaul of mental health laws that date back to 1967.
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