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LA is losing the battle against mental illness among its homeless

Dr. Brian Benjamin, a psychiatrist specializing in serving the homeless, was excited to tell one of his regular clients that a shelter spot had opened up, but unfortunately there were 20 murders in that building every day and the Mafia lived there – or so the client told him.

The client, who Benjamin did not name to respect his privacy, suffered from hallucinations, delusions and paranoia as a result of schizophrenia.

Dr. Benjamin, for example, has a tried and tested tool kit to help get his schizophrenic clients “housing ready.” It starts with his repeated visits to gain their trust and then, with his client’s consent, he administers an Invega Sustenna shot, which can provide a steady dose of anti-psychotic medication for up to a month. His hope is that over time clients will understand that their delusions are not real and will be open to moving indoors, he said

Dr. Brain Benjamin holds a dose of Invega Sustenna, an injectable anti-psychotic medication that can last up to a month, and has been working for unhoused patients who have difficulty taking regular medications. . (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

“I think it’s been a fundamental game changer,” he said of the Invega Sustenna shots, noting that people with severe mental illness are often unable to show up to regular clinic visits or remember to take daily medication.


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