Last up in the news for nurses this week is a look at how the LA Police Department is using a specially trained mental health evaluation unit to manage the mentally ill patients their officer encounter on the job. There are nearly 90 people on this special task force, 61 police officers and 28 counselors and mental health professionals from public health offices. Their goal is to provide needed crisis intervention for the mentally ill living in and around Los Angeles.
Specialized Resources for Mentally Ill
These people need health care resources and not arrest but too often, our nation’s police agencies are not trained to manage these people when they are in a crisis and the community lacks mental health resources to help the police treat them. Often the mentally ill in a community are indigent and homeless. This puts them at odds with local businesses that often see these people as eyesores and deterrents to patronage of their business.
Communities have historically used vagrancy and loitering laws to temporarily lock these people up in the local jail or prison. This does little to nothing to solve their underlying mental health issues. Sooner or later, they end up back on the streets, back where they started.
Kudos to LA for Special LAPD Squad
I applaud Los Angeles with their efforts to decriminalize mental health. As nurses, we should be looking at this and focus on our lawmakers for increasing funding and local resources for mental health treatment. Programs like this one can be implemented elsewhere and there are other similar ideas out there that deserve a chance to see the light of day.
Be an advocate for the improvement of the overall health of your community. That includes improving the mental health aspects, too.
Make sure you follow-up on the links for this news item and all of the other news and additional resource links from this week’s episode – Building Critical Care Nurse Leaders and Nursing Show Episode 355.