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Mental Illness

September 28, 2013 | Gale Holland
Veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder and other psychological diagnoses end up living in the streets because they're too disabled to seek help, advocates have long argued. The answer, they say, is permanent supportive housing, with medical, mental health and substance abuse treatment wrapped on-site around vets' residential complexes. Bureaucratic inertia and neighborhood opposition have stalled development of this type of housing, officials said. Now Los Angeles County, which has the most homeless veterans in the nation, has taken a step forward with a $48-million permanent supportive housing project called New Directions Sepulveda I and II in North Hills in the central San Fernando Valley.
September 21, 2013 | By Joseph Tanfani
WASHINGTON - For years, federal and state governments have struggled to build a background check system that can keep guns out of the hands of mentally troubled people. Monday's mass shooting at the Navy Yard shows that goal remains elusive. The National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS, run by the FBI, is supposed to prevent gun sales to people with serious mental illness, as well as to convicted criminals, fugitives and domestic violence offenders. (Despite the system's name, not all the people it flags have been accused of wrongdoing.)
September 9, 2013 | By Steve Lopez
In 1979, a man with a long history of mental illness robbed an Oakland department store and was sentenced to seven-years-to-life in prison. At the time, the average time behind bars on such a conviction was seven years. Thirty-two years later, at age 67, this man is still very sick, and still in prison. I've got in a request to visit the man, and I keep thinking about him as I watch the prison population drama play out in Sacramento. Gov. Jerry Brown and Senate leaders have been squabbling over the best way to deal with a court order to cut the ranks of inmates by another several thousand before the end of the year.
August 16, 2013 | Sandy Banks
Her husband had been emotionally unraveling for months; paranoid, delusional, his mind hijacked by stubborn mental illness and dangerous drugs. So when Erik Lamberg left his family in Hermosa Beach and set out for Oregon - to get sober, he said - his wife, Samantha Lamberg, was concerned about his stability. She also felt an odd sense of relief. He'd been in and out of treatment for 12 years. Maybe this time he'd find the solace and clarity he needed. Maybe his family would have a respite from years of drama and grief.
August 15, 2013 | By Patrick McGreevy
SACRAMENTO -- Nearly a decade after California voters approved a multibillion-dollar tax increase to improve mental health programs, the state has failed to provide proper oversight of county programs funded by Proposition 63, a state audit concluded Thursday. State Auditor Elaine Howle looked at the last six years during which time almost $7.4 billion from the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) was directed to counties for mental health programs. “This report concludes that Mental Health [Department]
August 10, 2013 | Steve Lopez
There is little in Andy's appearance or manner that offers a clue as to what he's been through. The arrests, the jailhouse beatings, the commitments. He's soft-spoken and unassuming, so much so that the story of his life doesn't seem to go with the man who tells it. I ask how many times he's been locked up, and now a hint of distress creeps into his eyes. "Maybe 20," he shrugs, adding that he's been in mental institutions nearly as many times. Andy emailed me after I wrote about a visit to L.A. County Jail, which houses about 3,200 inmates diagnosed with a mental illness.
August 5, 2013 | By Lee Romney, This article has been corrected. See the note below for details.
SANTA CRUZ - After months spent in a state mental hospital, Charles Anthony Edwards was brought Monday to a Santa Cruz County courtroom, where a judge will determine whether he should be tried in a slaying that shocked this beach town. Edwards' public defender conceded during the first day of an expected two-day preliminary hearing that his client had been identified by two witnesses to the stabbing of downtown business owner Shannon Collins. The stocky 44-year-old Edwards was arrested not far from the street where Collins fell, her right carotid artery and jugular vein slashed.
July 20, 2013 | Steve Lopez
L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca has no medical background, but he is the de facto administrator of what he calls "the nation's largest mental hospital. " "This is the system," he said, drawing a box on a piece of paper in his Monterey Park office last week. Judges, prosecutors and law enforcement officials each have a role in deciding what to do with someone who has a mental illness and is accused of a crime, Baca said. But they decide each case in isolation, missing a broader concern - thousands of sick people get locked up, with no coherent plan for helping them get better.
July 17, 2013
There is no longer enough room in Los Angeles County Jail to house inmates diagnosed with a mental illness in a segregated area, so those inmates are being housed with the general population. Join us for an L.A. Now Live chat at 9 a.m. as we talk with Times columnist Steve Lopez about what he witnessed when he toured the jails. Sheriff  Lee Baca  has said for decades that he runs the nation's largest mental hospital, but we've heard it so often that the shock has worn off. We know there's something inexcusably wrong with the system - something backward and inhumane.
July 17, 2013 | By Phil Willon
Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez took at trip to the Los Angeles County jail and found all the evidence he needed to show why housing the mentally ill in jail cells is a mistake: Clearly, locking these men up over and over again isn't working, and it isn't cheap. But it's what the system has been doing for years in Los Angeles County and in jails and prisons across the country. Therapists know it. Judges know it, because they see the same offenders churn through their courtrooms, many of them for drug possession and minor offenses in which the underlying cause is often a mental illness.
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