On Tuesday the L.A. County Board of Supervisors approved the hiring of nearly 200 new employees who will form special teams designed to connect mentally ill people with mental health, medical and other services.
The new hires will roughly double the number of county staff currently helping the mentally ill get connected to services. But the hope is that forming them into teams will make them more effective. Each team will include at least one mental health professional and one community member who has personal experience with mental illness.
The teams will target four kinds of people -- foster children, homeless veterans, people in jail, and people who show up in emergency rooms. Some of the teams will be stationed in hospitals and in jails, and others will work at soon-to-be established facilities around the county.
Marvin Southard, Director of the L.A. County Department of Mental Health, said the goal will be to identify people with mental health needs, establish relationships with them and connect them to county and private services that will help them avoid returning to emergency rooms or jail, and help them stay off the streets.
"We want to assist people to get the community care that they need so that they won't have to rely on institutional care, whether that be E.R.s or hospitals or jails," Southard said.
The new teams will be funded by a $31 million state grant. They're expected to start their work in March.