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The Honorable Gavin Newsom
Governor, State of California
State Capitol
Sacramento, CA 95814

AB 3242 (Irwin) Mental health: involuntary commitment


Dear Governor Newsom:

I respectfully request your signature on AB 3242 (Irwin), which would authorize a 5150 assessment under the Lanterman-Petris-Short (LPS) Act, to be conducted using telehealth.

The millions of Californians who are struggling to manage mental health or substance use disorders experience myriad challenges in getting the care they need. Those experiencing an acute behavioral health episode often have no option but to go to a hospital emergency department (ED). This bill would leverage telehealth to better serve Californians experiencing a psychiatric crisis.

California’s shortage of dedicated crisis services means people with behavioral health issues — including those facing homelessness and substance use disorders — often cannot get the care they and their family members need. Instead of getting immediate crisis care, their path to recovery is delayed.

People experiencing a psychiatric crisis may be placed on an involuntary hold, often called a “5150” hold in California. The involuntary hold process requires a person designated by the county behavioral health department to determine whether the patient’s situation warrants release from the hold or requires further care with the hold in place. However, as the behavioral health system has become more strained at every level, patients often languish in the ED while waiting for an assessment.

Although the COVID-19 crisis has created enormous challenges for the health care system, it has also opened new ways of thinking about how we deliver care. During the pandemic, telehealth has quickly proven to be a safe and effective way to ensure patients receive the assessments, evaluations, and timely follow-up care they deserve, in the most expedient way possible.

AB 3242 would improve response times to hospital ED requests for a 5150 assessment by enshrining our experience with the COVID-19 pandemic and permanently allowing 5150 assessments and evaluations to be done using telehealth. For these reasons, I respectfully request that you sign AB 3242.



Support for AB 3242

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