Assisted Outpatient Treatment
Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT), sometimes called “Laura’s Law,” is for people with severe and persistent mental illness who need treatment to prevent substantial deterioration of their condition, and who may pose a risk to themselves or others.
For these individuals, who decline care or struggle to engage in treatment when offered, Contra Costa County has adopted Laura’s Law. Laura’s Law is a discretionary state law that allows counties to use the civil court system to supervise care.
For eligible individuals, the AOT program provides a 24-hour team response that includes mental health treatment, medication, access to primary health care, substance abuse counseling, benefits and resource counseling, supportive housing, vocational rehabilitation, and peer and family member education and support.
The court process is only used after every effort has been made to encourage individuals who need treatment to voluntarily participate.
AOT is not for crisis intervention. If someone is experiencing a mental or emotional emergency, call 1-888-678-7277 any time of day or night.
Program staff includes licensed mental health clinicians from Behavioral Health Services (BHS) as well as from Mental Health Systems, a not-for-profit, community based organization contracted by BHS.
A person must meet all of these conditions to be eligible for AOT:
- 18 or older
- Has a mental illness
- Mental health condition getting substantially worse
- Unlikely to survive safely in the community without supervision
- Needs the program to prevent serious harm to themselves or others
- Has been offered treatment, but has not engaged in provided services
- History of resisting mental health treatment, and
- Has been hospitalized due to mental illness at least twice in the last 36 months, OR
- One or more serious acts of violence toward themselves or others within the last 48 months
- Participating in AOT would be the least restrictive option to ensure recovery and stability
- Likely to benefit from participating in AOT
To request an AOT investigation, the referring party must be:
- Anyone 18 or older with whom the person is living
- A parent, spouse or child of the person who is 18 or older
- The director of any agency providing mental health services to the person
- The director of a hospital where the person is hospitalized
- A licensed mental health clinician who is providing or supervising the person’s mental health treatment
- A probation or peace officer assigned to the person
Any one of the above is a Qualified Requesting Party.
If you are a Qualified Requesting Party, and you think an individual meets the conditions for AOT eligibility, call 1-844-422-2268 during business hours to request an investigation. An AOT clinician will return your call to review your request with you.
Please be ready to provide examples of AOT criteria to the clinician.
Note: The AOT program is not for crisis intervention. If the person is experiencing a mental or emotional emergency, call 1-888-678-7277 any time of day or night.
A Care Team responds to qualified requests for AOT investigations, compassionately supporting those involved, encouraging participation in appropriate mental health care, providing links to services and engaging the person in the least restrictive care needed to ensure their recovery and stability.
The Care Team assists referred individuals who do not meet all AOT eligibility requirements to connect with appropriate behavioral health services.
Eligible individuals receive Assertive Community Treatment (ACT), a nationally recognized, evidence-based practice. The ACT team, led by a licensed mental health clinician, works with clients to implement individualized treatment plans.
An eligible individual who resists care may be required to participate in treatment by a court order.
The goal is for eligible individuals to voluntarily participate in the AOT Program. However, in cases where a referred individual will not voluntarily participate in the AOT program, they may be summoned to a private civil hearing in Contra Costa Superior Court.
In this situation, BHS files a petition with the court, and a judge holds a hearing that includes the referred individual and their legal representation, provided by the Public Defender’s office. After the hearing, the judge may order the referred individual to participate in the AOT program.