Assisted Outpatient Treatment in San Mateo County
Together Towards Recovery
Developed out of the County’s adoption of Laura’s Law (Assembly Bill 1421) in the summer of 2015, the Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) is a program that reaches out to people with a severe mental illness who are not connected to services and are challenged to live safely and stably in our community. Our AOT team engages people in receiving treatment to help improve their quality of life.
We work collaboratively with individuals, family members and partners to provide the right care, at the right place and right time. Our dedicated team helps decrease mental health crises, hospitalizations, incarcerations and homelessness while helping people achieve and maintain their physical and mental health.
For print materials, please download the Flyer and Handout.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Laura’s Law?
Laura’s Law (AB 1421) is a California state law passed in 2002 that allows for voluntary or court ordered (involuntary) assisted outpatient treatment for people with a serious mental illness who meet the criteria defined in the law.
Find more information about Laura’s Law here.
Additional resource: www.mentalillnesspolicy.org
What is AOT in San Mateo County?
San Mateo County designed the local implementation of Laura’s Law to engage people who are not connected to treatment and help them participate in the array of services provided by AOT. The AOT team includes a clinical services manager, deputy public guardian, psychiatric social worker, and counselor.
The Full Service Partnership (FSP) is a community based program operated by Caminar, which provides intensive mental health services. The program includes 24/7 care and services such as intensive case management, psychiatry, medication management, benefit and housing support, life skill development, as well as guidance and support to help people reach their recovery goals.
San Mateo County joins other Bay Area counties, including San Francisco and Contra Costa, and other counties throughout the state in implementing Laura’s Law and the AOT. Assisted Outpatient Treatment has been shown to:
- saves lives
- reduces homelessness, hospitalizations, crime, arrests, and incarceration
- helps families and reduces caregiver stress
- saves money on arrests, incarcerations, and hospitalizations
Who is eligible for AOT?
A person must meet all of these conditions to be eligible for AOT:
- 18 years old and over, seriously mentally ill, and a San Mateo County resident
- Have a history of not following through with treatment for
their mental illness resulting in:
- having been hospitalized and/or receipt of services in a
forensic or other mental health unit of a correctional
facility two or more times within the last 3 years.
- having threatened or attempted a significantly dangerous behavior towards themselves or others at least one time in the past 4 years.
- having been hospitalized and/or receipt of services in a forensic or other mental health unit of a correctional facility two or more times within the last 3 years.
- Were previously offered treatment on a voluntary basis and refused it, and whose health is quickly declining.
How can I refer someone for AOT?
Our AOT team is here to help partner with clients and provide the care they need. Call 650-372-6125 or email AOT@smcgov.org and let us know how we can help. This is not a crisis service. If you are experiencing a mental health crisis, call 9-1-1 or go to your nearest emergency room.
See Guidelines for Calling 9-1-1 in a Mental Health Emergency
What is the AOT process?
The AOT team reviews referrals during regular business hours to gather additional information to determine if the individual meets the criteria for AOT. The team responds within one business day.
If the person meets the criteria, the team will meet with him/her about accepting services. People who do not meet the AOT criteria are connected to appropriate resources.
If someone refuses AOT services, the team will continue to engage and support them in an effort to reach an agreement to voluntarily accept participation in AOT. If the person continues to refuse, a petition will be filed with the San Mateo County Courts for services to be court ordered.
If the person accepts the services voluntarily any time prior to the court hearing, the petition will be dropped and they will be enrolled into services.
If the individual does not choose to accept offered services, the case will proceed to the AOT Court and legal representation will be provided by the Private Defender’s Office. If the judge finds that the person does meet Laura’s Law criteria, he may order them to participate in the services. Court ordered services are in effect for 180 days with required reviews at least every 60 days.
If the judge finds the person does not meet the criteria, the petition may not be approved, at which time, the AOT Team will refer them to community resources.
Download a PDF version of the AOT process here.
Myth: Laura’s Law will force people into
Fact: Our goal is to engage people when and where they need it most. Many of the people we care for have fallen through the cracks of our mental health system and are in desperate need of high quality, comprehensive care. Laura’s Law provides us with an opportunity to serve people who need help most and work with clients to help them towards recovery, where they can remain in our community and thrive.
Myth: People don’t have a voice in their treatment
planning or goal setting.
Fact: Our AOT team motto is Together Towards Recovery. This means we partner with clients and their family members and work with them to achieve their goals through a collaborative process and ensure the best treatment for them possible. We personalize every treatment plan to best meet our clients’ needs and set them on the path towards recovery.
Myth: People can already access community services for
Fact: Those who qualify for Assisted Outpatient Treatment services are often unable to recognize that they need help or don’t know how to get the help they need. Without proper treatment, symptoms can worsen and lead to increased hospitalizations and/or incarceration. AOT meets clients where they are and provides these services directly.
Myth: Laura’s Law is expensive for the
Fact: Laura’s Law has already been shown to significantly reduce hospitalizations and emergency services in many counties, saving counties’ money and improving the health of residents who need it most.
Myth: People who get AOT services will be under the thumb
of the system forever.
Fact: Our goal is to help people recover. This means people can achieve stability and be able to thrive in the community.