Information from family and friends soon will be considered when a licensed mental health professional and the court determine whether someone should be involuntarily committed for mental health treatment, thanks to legislation signed into law today by Gov. Jay Inslee.
"People who may need to be committed and receive treatment don’t always present symptoms when being examined and assessed; someone might exhibit none of the signs that immediate commitment is warranted,” said Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Kent, the sponsor of Senate Bill 5480. “But friends and family who see that person from day to day often see behavior and telltale signs that won’t show up in a single examination.”
Her legislation accelerates the implementation date from July 2015 to July 2014 for legislation enacted in 2010 (House Bill 3076) to expand the scope of information used by the court when determining if someone meets the criteria for involuntary civil commitment for mental health treatment.
Keiser’s bill also calls for additional local mental health services to reduce the need for hospitalization under the Involuntary Treatment Act. The state operating budget passed earlier this session by the Senate provides $14 million for additional mental health services.
The expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare is a key factor in our state’s ability to fund additional mental health services in this year’s budget, Keiser said. SB 5480 is the 13th bill passed this session that reforms our mental health system and capped a landmark year in this critical human services area, she noted.
“This has been a groundbreaking year for our ability to help those who struggle with mental health issues,” Keiser said. “Today’s bill will make sure those who need mental health treatment will receive care and also protect the public from incidents involving individuals who have not received intensive mental health service.”