Legislators in the state of Vermont are considering significant changes to mental health laws which are drawing concern from mental health advocates, reports WCAX. “One of the biggest changes in the law is in name alone. In criminal court, defendants would no longer claim insanity as a defense, instead it would be called ‘lack of capacity.'” In addition, more professionals will have powers to certify patients.
“There’s a whole range of changes where they’re trying to take away rights that people have now,” Jack McCullough of Vermont Legal Aid told WCAX. “They’re broadening the number of people who can initiate involuntary commitment.”
According to WCAX, the new law will allow qualified nurses and physician assistants, not just doctors and psychiatrists, to certify a patient as mentally ill. “Backers of that change say it would help patients get treatment faster.”
Concerns over proposed changes to Vt. mental health law (WCAX, January 6, 2014)