I don’t normally post items so close together but today NAMI Ohio has successfully convinced a State Senator to sponsor a bill that I believe deprives individuals of their civil liberties, their due process, their dignity and their humanity.
I’ve copied the press release exactly as I’ve received it. Bob started this website, in part, to fight these very issues. Of course just because a bill has a sponsor doesn’t mean it will necessarily become law. I’m just offended that it’s been introduced and a bit ashamed by the lack of push back for those who know better.
Phone: 614-224-2700 / 800-686-2646 Email: [email protected]
MayJune 4, 2012
Dear Mental Health Advocates,
For those of you who follow NAMI Ohio’s advocacy efforts, you are probably aware that we have been working for some time on crafting a legislative proposal that would clarify Ohio’s court ordered outpatient treatment statute. We are pleased to inform you that Senator Dave Burke has introduced S.B. 350 at our request to do just that!
Specifically, S.B. 350 would eliminate any question on the part of Ohio’s Probate Court Judges about whether they may court order certain individuals with serious and persistent mental illness into outpatient treatment.
S.B. 350 would give judges clear authority to step in before someone with a serious mental illness who is unaware of his or her need for treatment becomes so ill that hospitalization or incarceration are the only options remaining. Lack of awareness of illness – a neurological syndrome called anosognosia – is believed to be the single largest reason why individuals with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder do not follow through with treatment. In many cases, such individuals can be persuaded with a court order to follow their treatment plan. This is commonly referred to as the “black robe effect.”
Court ordered outpatient treatment is not the answer for everyone who meets the criteria, but for some it could mean the difference between life and death. This bill simply removes any question on the part of judges that they have a tool they can use when there is clear and convincing evidence that without treatment, the individual will likely become an imminent threat to themselves or others and end up in the hospital, jail, or worse…dead.
It is important to note that no new programs or services would be required under this bill. However, it may mean that in some communities those who are the most ill would move to the front of the line if there is a waiting list for services. It is our expectation, based on the experience of other states and communities who use outpatient treatment, that there will be a savings in institutionalization costs that could be diverted to enhance community mental health services.
To view the bill in its entirety, please click here:
Of course, this means our work has just begun. To get this bill passed, we will need your assistance in getting the word out to legislators that their constituents support S.B. 350. Please take a moment to contact your State Senator and ask him or her to support S.B. 350 to clarify Ohio’s court ordered outpatient treatment law. In addition, NAMI Ohio is collecting stories in which court ordered outpatient treatment may have made a difference in someone’s life. If you have such a story and are willing to share it, we would love to add it to our collection. Please send stories to us at [email protected]
NAMI Ohio is grateful to have the support of the Ohio Psychological Association and the Ohio Psychiatric Physicians Association for this bill. We are also especially appreciative to Senator Burke for his willingness to sponsor this important legislation. And finally, we are thankful to NAMI Franklin County, and the families and consumers who make up their membership, for bringing the need for this legislation to our attention.
Your friends at NAMI Ohio
Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.