Starting next week, San Francisco will be the fifth county in the state to implement Laura's Law, the measure that allows judges to force severely mentally ill people to get treatment.
The measure is targeted toward people who are resisting care and have a history of hospitalization, incarceration or violence. Family members, mental health providers or police officers can petition the court to compel patients into outpatient treatment, though patients cannot be forced to take medication.
“Living with a mental illness is a constant struggle,” says Cedric Fotso, a peer specialist with San Francisco’s program who has resisted treatment for his own mental health diagnosis. “Stigma is one of the many obstacles to overcome when seeking care.”
Other people are in total denial of their illness, or believe they are cured if symptoms lessen after a hospital stay, says David Fariello, a clinical social worker at UCSF and director of Citywide Case Management Programs, which will treat patients referred through Laura’s Law.