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San Diego County Launches Laura’s Law

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Photo credit: Alex Poimos / Flickr

A barefoot man covered in a blanket is seen walking down a city street, Dec. 18, 2009.

San Diego County Launches Laura's Law


Alfredo Aguirre, director of behavioral health, San Diego County Department of Health And Human Services

Michael Plopper, chief medical officer, Sharp Behavioral Health Services


Some people with a severe mental illness don't think they need help or refuse to get treatment. That can be agonizing for their family members. For those in San Diego County, there's a new option: Laura's Law.

Under the law, a concerned family member can ask a judge to order a relative to undergo outpatient treatment. The patient must meet certain conditions, including having a history of hospitalizations or being deemed unlikely to survive in the community without supervision.

“There is that subset of group [who are] not aware of their mental illness or they've had bad experiences with medications or maybe cultural issues that get in the way of receiving care,” Alfredo Aguirre, director of behavioral health for the San Diego County Department of Health and Human Services, told KPBS Midday Edition on Monday. “This will give us another tool.”

Dr. Michael Plopper, chief medical officer for Sharp Behavioral Health Services, said that an order coming from a judge will encourage people to comply.

“I think this is a fair implementation of the law,” Plopper said.

San Diego is the 11th county in California to implement Laura's Law. It's been an option in the state since 2003.


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