Exclusive investigation

‘Do you ever give up on someone you love?’

Conservatorships may expand, but already struggle to serve people with serious mental illness.

A collage with a map and pushpins on the left, a photo of a police officer, a piece of cardboard that says "Be the love you've wished for in the world," sticky notes and a woman with short blonde hair looking at those elements. In the background there are grayed out file cabinets and picture frames.
Illustration by No Limit Creatives for inewsource

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About this reporting

California has a homeless crisis that appears to be getting worse. In recent years, elected officials across the state have discussed what some believe is a possible solution: more mental health conservatorships. 

But from a lack of resources and the emotional toll placed on family members and their loved ones with severe mental illness, there are gaps within the system — and not enough data to understand whether conservatorships are effective. 

inewsource spent months investigating the system and spoke with nearly 40 people, including family members, advocates, health care professionals and patients who experienced involuntary mental health services. Many pointed to major problems.

inewsource investigative reporter Jennifer Bowman reported this project while participating in the USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism’s 2022 California Fellowship.

more from this series

‘Do you ever give up on someone you love?’

Officials have turned to conservatorships as part of a solution to the state’s homeless crisis. Those who have spent decades trying to help their loved one with a severe mental illness have largely been in support of expansion, but some advocates have concerns.