On July 30, 2020, GBDH, along with Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, and Disability Rights California (DRC), filed a lawsuit against Alameda County for unnecessarily and illegally segregating people with mental health disabilities in psychiatric institutions instead of providing them with services they need to live in the community.
Based on its investigation, DRC found that Alameda County institutionalizes people at a rate more than three-and-a-half times California’s statewide average. Without access to adequate community-based services, hundreds of Alameda County residents have been institutionalized more than 10 times in the last three years alone. DRC’s investigation also revealed significant racial disparities in Alameda County’s system for serving people with serious mental health disabilities. Specifically, Black residents make up 11% of Alameda County’s population, yet of the hundreds of people Alameda County psychiatrically institutionalized 10 or more times since 2018, 55% are Black.
The lawsuit alleges that Alameda County must provide access to intensive community services such as Full-Service Partnerships, assertive community treatment, intensive case management, supported housing and employment, and peer support services, which are highly effective in enabling people with mental health disabilities to avoid unnecessary institutionalization.