1974 D.C. mental health lawsuit may end

(Photo courtesy viajar24h via Flickr)

WASHINGTON (AP) - A long-running lawsuit over the District of Columbia's health services to seriously mentally ill residents appears to be coming to a close.

A federal judge on Monday gave preliminary approval to a settlement in a class action lawsuit brought by mental health patients which dates to 1974 and led to changes in the way the city cares for its mentally ill residents.

Under the agreement, the city will increase job services and housing options for the mentally ill. The agreement also requires that the city reduce its use of restrictive inpatient facilities for mentally ill children and youth and rely more on community-based treatment. The city has until September 2013 to make the changes.

A judge could give final approval to the settlement in February.