LANSING (AP) — Mentally ill people who have been
hospitalized, jailed or have a violent history could be ordered to
receive outpatient treatment if they refuse to comply with their
prescribed treatment under legislation approved yesterday by the
state Senate.

The measures also would let a person designate a patient
advocate to make mental-health-treatment decisions for him or her
in the future — much like what already is done for physical
health decisions.

The Senate voted 36 to 0 to pass the 13-bill package. Democratic
Sens. Dennis Olshove of Warren and Buzz Thomas of Detroit were
absent and didn’t vote.

Part of the package is known as Kevin’s Law, named for
Kevin Heisinger, a University graduate student who was killed by a
mentally ill man in a Kalamazoo bus station in August 2000.

The attacker was a diagnosed schizophrenic with a history of
problems who didn’t comply with mental health treatment.

Sen. Tom George, a Republican from Texas Township in Kalamazoo
County, said the legislation would provide an alternative to
hospitalization for individuals with a severe mental illness but
still give them the help they need. He said too many of the
mentally ill end up homeless or incarcerated.

The bill would protect the public, George said, by letting
family members and others intervene to get mentally ill people
treatment before they hurt themselves or others. It would allow any
person at least 18 years old to file a petition saying that a
person meets the criteria for assisted outpatient treatment.

A community mental health program would be required to provide
the treatment — picked up by the program or Medicaid.

Mark Reinstein, president of the Mental Health Association in
Michigan, said Kevin’s Law essentially gives courts and
mentally ill people more options.

Instead of ordering someone to receive treatment in a hospital
or other facility, a judge could choose outpatient treatment.

Another part of the package involves patient advocates —
those who work on behalf of patients receiving treatment.

Reinstein said extending patient advocacy to the mental health
field would follow a trend of giving patients more choice early
on.

“At some point in time when people are functioning well
they think about what could happen if they become highly
dysfunctional,” he said. “They could record their
wishes now … to prepare for the future.”

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.