Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Some of the 700 prisoners whom the state has transferred to San Diego County probation have mental illnesses. Unlike Los Angeles County, so far San Diego’s psychiatric unit has not been overwhelmed.
Each of the 700 newly released inmates from California prisons sent to San Diego starting late last year are screened for mental illness. San Diego County mental health director Alfredo Aguirre said the disorders run the gamut.
“Anything from a major depression which can be disabling, can keep someone from functioning in the community and getting a job or severe anxiety disorders all the way to serious mental illness which would be a bipolar manic depression or something related to schizophrenia," Aguirre said.
County officials had projected that about 20 percent of the inmates from the state’s prisons would have mental illnesses. But so far, Aguirre said only about 10 percent have been diagnosed with problems.
“We have not had the surprises or what are often referred to as dumps at your emergency department or our emergency psychiatric unit, our psych hospital," he said. "We haven’t seen it at the level that you’ve seen in other counties like L.A.”
Aguirre says those numbers could pick up as more inmates come in. Aguirre says the county anticipates that a far higher percentage – about 85 percent – of the inmates need some kind of substance abuse treatment.