Program Authorization: R.S. 28:64
The mission of the Administrative Program of the Mental Health Advocacy Service (MHAS) is to ensure that the rights of the mentally disabled are protected by: (1) making legal representation available to the respondent in every civil commitment proceeding in Louisiana; (2) providing legal representation during the initial stages of confinement for every indigent person involuntarily admitted for mental health treatment; (3) providing legal representation for every person who has been civilly committed, subsequent to their civil commitment; and (4) providing legal representation to juveniles committed to mental institutions. The program also acts as a clearinghouse for information relative to the rights of mentally disabled persons.
The goals of the Administrative Program of the Mental Health Advocacy Service are:
1. Provide the very best legal counsel and representation for mentally disabled persons.
2. Ensure that the legal rights of all mentally disabled persons are protected.
In order to provide services on a statewide basis, the Mental Health Advocacy Service (MHAS) is broken down into the administrative headquarters in Baton Rouge and six agency field offices located around the state. The offices litigate more than 140 cases each month. In addition, the MHAS responds to over 6,500 requests for information annually, provides training for over 2,200 persons annually, addresses numerous systems issues (issues that affect the rights of more than one disabled person and require a change in policy or practice to be remedied), and participates in the community by sitting on boards and commissions.
It is expensive to provide psychiatric hospitalization in state mental hospitals and the cost is paid with state--not federal--dollars. Alternatives to full-time hospitalization are sought by MHAS attorneys on behalf of their clients. These alternatives (which might include commitment to a community mental health center as an outpatient or discharge on the condition that the person continue to take medication) represent a cost savings to the state because expensive inpatient hospitalization is avoided. In addition, MHAS attorneys determine whether clients are willing to accept treatment on a voluntary basis, thus avoiding the need of judicial hearings; and MHAS attorneys attempt to resolve as many cases before trial as possible. In this way, both judicial and professional time and expenses are saved.
OBJECTIVES AND PERFORMANCE INDICATORS
1. In FY 1998-99, the Administrative Program will ensure that the rights of the mentally disabled are protected in probable cause hearings, civil commitment hearings, and periodic review hearings.
RESOURCE ALLOCATION FOR THE PROGRAM
SOURCE OF FUNDING
This program is funded with state general fund.
ANALYSIS OF RECOMMENDATION
The total means of financing for this program is recommended at 106.2% of the existing operating budget. It represents 90.4% of the total request ($ 790,993) for this program. The net increase over existing operating budget is primarily due to the attrition adjustment.
ACQUISITIONS AND MAJOR REPAIRS
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