Re "Skimpy mental health net leads to dumped patients" (Editorials, March 2): Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg's is proposing a bill that would place people trained to make mental assessments at emergency rooms, jails, and social service agencies. I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and my employer, UC Davis Medical Center, maintains a team of trained, master's level social workers to make mental health assessments and referrals in the emergency room 24/7.
We see many severely ill patients cycle through psychiatric hositals and emergency rooms because they have insufficient support.
The problem is not a lack of trained staff to make assessments, but rather that the services to the mentally ill in Sacramento County have been so savagely cut that we have little to refer them to. Shelters are full. Mental health agencies have long waiting lists. Patients can't get their medication. As a result, hundreds of vulnerable mentally ill people are living in the streets lacking basic services.
If the Legislature is serious about helping the mentally ill, please fund intensive services.
-- Pam Schwartz, LCSW, Sacramento