April 20, 2024 The Best Source of News, Culture, Lifestyle for Culver City, Mar Vista, Del Rey, Palms and West Los Angeles

If You Have a Loved One Experiencing Severe Mental Illness, We Can Help

By Lisa H. Wong, Psy. D

Many families across Los Angeles County know what it’s like to watch a loved one grapple with mental illness. These illnesses can range from depression to bipolar disorder to schizophrenia. Whether you live in Willowbrook or Westwood, whether you’re African American or Asian American, mental illness can impact anyone, regardless of race, ethnicity, or income level. 

Without treatment, a mental illness can place the people we love in danger of incarceration, hospitalization, or even at greater risk of serious harm. Unlike a physical health issue, such as asthma or diabetes, many individuals feel powerless watching their loved ones suffer without knowing what to do.

So, what keeps people from getting the help they need? Too often, it’s the stigma around mental illness. When people are afraid, ashamed, or just don’t understand mental illness, it makes it hard to talk honestly about this incredibly important health issue. When they can’t talk about their struggles with those closest to them, it makes it hard for them to seek help. These challenges can increase when dealing with more severe mental health issues. 

There are programs and services available to help those with severe mental illness heal with compassion and dignity. The first step towards healing is to reach out for help.  

On December 1, California launched a new, completely voluntary program called Community Assistance, Recovery, and Empowerment, also known as CARE Court. It helps adults with untreated schizophrenia and associated psychotic disorders – and their families – get the services they need. We know there are members of our community with this condition who cycle in and out of jail or may experience homelessness as a result of their mental condition. 

If this describes someone you care about, know that there are steps you can take to get the support they need. Participants in CARE Court can get free counseling, medication, housing options, social services, and other support for up to 12 months. Their involvement in this program can be extended for an additional year if needed.   

Family members, roommates, clinicians, and others can start the process by filing a petition that refers an individual for help. If they meet the criteria for CARE Court, a team of experts will work with them to create a plan that’s made to fit their specific needs. CARE Court participants and the people who care for them can get services in their community that support their recovery and well-being.

Empowerment is key. CARE Court is voluntary; participants can choose to leave the program at any time. Program participants get free legal representation, and they can choose a supporter to help them navigate the process. The process is civil, and there are no civil or criminal penalties if someone chooses not to participate. 

While CARE Court focuses specifically on helping individuals with untreated schizophrenia or other psychotic disorders, the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health has many other programs to help people who are experiencing a wide range of mental health issues. Our top goal is to help Angelenos who are struggling – our neighbors, loved ones, family, and friends – get the services they need to heal, live safely in the community, and thrive. CARE Court is one way we’re working to ensure that there is no wrong door when someone needs support.

If you or someone you care about is struggling, please reach out for support. You do not have to suffer in silence or feel powerless to help a loved one. Breaking the stigmas around mental health can open a new path to healing, recovery, and wellness. 

To learn more about CARE Court or find other resources for people with mental illness, visit DMH.LAcounty.gov/CareCourt.

Dr. Lisa H. Wong is the director of the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health.

in Opinion
Related Posts

New Program Can Help Protect Southern California Homes in the Event of an Earthquake

May 13, 2023

May 13, 2023

Residents Have Until May 31 To Apply For Seismic Retrofit Grants By Janiele Maffei, Chief Mitigation Officer for the California...

Column: Install at LAX Tiny Homes From The State Grant

April 7, 2023

April 7, 2023

By Clark Brown On March 16  Governor Newsom announced in Sacramento, his first stop on his State of the State of...

Column: SB 9 Ended R-1 Zoning, but It’s Not Meeting Goals

March 11, 2023

March 11, 2023

By Tom Elias More than a year after it took effect, the landmark housing density law known as SB 9...

Column: The Inevitable Conversions Begin Multiplying

February 25, 2023

February 25, 2023

By Tom Elias It’s a phenomenon from New York to Dallas to Fresno and Los Angeles, one that seemed inevitable...

Column: The Fantasy World of California Housing Policy

February 20, 2023

February 20, 2023

By Tom Elias If you’re looking for sure things among bills under consideration in the state Legislature, think of one...

Column: State Usurping Key Powers From Cities

January 28, 2023

January 28, 2023

By Tom Elias All over California last fall, hundreds of the civic minded spent thousands of hours and millions of...

Column – A California Positive: Kids Swarm Extra Classes

January 24, 2023

January 24, 2023

By Tom Elias It’s become a cliché, the shibboleth that California has lousy public schools and most of the kids...

​​Column: No One Very Pleased as New Rooftop Solar Rules Improve

December 9, 2022

December 9, 2022

By Tom Elias, Columnist Only rarely does the California Public Utilities Commission, long known as the least responsive agency in...

Column: Will New Political Players Offer More Effective Local Government for Los Angeles & Venice?

December 5, 2022

December 5, 2022

Bass, Park could become unlikely allies in fighting homelessness, rising crime and the quality-of-life issues that plague both Angelenos and...

Column – Gas Gougers Beware: California Is Onto You at Last

November 11, 2022

November 11, 2022

By Tom Elias It has taken more than 50 years of on-and-off gasoline price gouging, but at long last California...

$87,581,047.01: Candidate Rick Caruso on Pace to Smash All Spending Records in His Bid to Become Mayor of Los Angeles

November 4, 2022

November 4, 2022

Caruso overwhelming Bass nearly 10-1! By Nick Antonicello According to the LA Ethics Commission as of October 31st, billionaire developer...

“Ten Takes” to Watch as CD-11 Hopefuls Park & Darling Close out the Campaign in a Mad Dash to the Finish Line!

November 4, 2022

November 4, 2022

By Nick Antonicello And after some sixteen months of posturing, positioning and intensive campaigning be it door to door, shaking...

Column: Who’s the ‘True’ Democrat in CD-11?

October 30, 2022

October 30, 2022

So who is the true Democrat in this race to succeed Mike Bonin in CD-11? While the campaign for city...

Column: Money & Messaging That Is Persuasive and Memorable May Just Make Rick Caruso Our Next Mayor!

October 25, 2022

October 25, 2022

Moving away from direct mail, Caruso saturates broadcast television with a more disciplined message that is resonating with an angry...

Column: Excess School Lands for Teacher Housing?

October 22, 2022

October 22, 2022

By Tom Elias, Columnist Do voters want more teachers living in their communities, even if it means a little more...