Thursday, July 26, 2012

How to Advocate for AOT in Kentucky

We are advocating for a mental health law that prevents dangerousness, rather than requiring it—before medical care is provided! We are advocating for an Assisted Outpatient Treatment, (AOT) law that will reduce hospitalizations, incarcerations and death.

What can we advocate for and how?

•  Some state leaders will argue that AOT will cost too much money. They will warn us to not advocate for services that cannot be funded. Response: “Frequently, funds are already utilized for these individuals in the DOC or the justice system! Follow the patient and re-direct the funds for behavioral health care.”

• Review the recommendations issued by the Task Force on Violence and Mental Illness issued in the late 90’s and REJUVENATE HB 843 COMMISSION: This does not require legislative action, but advocacy to engage the Governor to call together the Statewide HB 843 Commission and urge active participation of all Cabinets, Departments and Divisions named in the statute, as well as representatives of consumers, family members and Regional Planning Councils.  Possible issues for study by the HB 843 Commission include: Integration of Physical and Behavioral Health; Pew Commission Recommendations on Corrections & Substance Abuse; Medicaid Cost Containment Recommendations, including possible expansion of managed care throughout the Commonwealth.

•  Advocate to shift funds from the Department of Justice to develop front-end diversion programs that send individuals with mental illness to treatment rather than jail. 

•  Mental health courts and re-entry services help the justice system allow humane treatment. Crises Intervention Training, (CIT) helps law enforcement make the right decisions before a person with mental illness ends up in jail or prison. Mobile outreach teams would help those who lack insight, are
too ill or not willing to seek out medical treatment without assistance.

•  Shift Medicaid dollars to include acute crisis units, used to divert people from of jails and state hospital.Legislative change is needed in KRS 202A to allow for outpatient civil commitment for: forensic clients and those who are repeatedly hospitalized and haven’t engaged in outpatient treatment.

• Encourage criminal justice and law enforcement professionals to advocate for system changes. History tells us that other states have been successful in stopping the revolving door when The Dept. of Corrections and Criminal Justice came together.  In Florida, a successful practice was established in
1998 called Partners in Crisis, This program works as a diversion from jail to treatment.

• Encourage KY leaders to adopt national policies that demonstrate what have been proven to be effective, such at AOT.  In 2012, the DOJ determined that AOT is an “effective,” evidence-based practice that "Works" to Prevent Crime and Violence.

 • Advocating to fund peer specialist, supportive employment, affordable housing, (evidence based practices)  ... will still NOT benefit individuals who lack insight (AH-no-sog-NO-sia) or who are trapped in the revolving door. Simply stated for some, "recovery" is NOT possible without AOT.

• With AOT, more individuals in Kentucky would be able to access a bridge to recovery. As advocates, we should support eliminating barriers that keep people from receiving the treatment needed to become productive citizens.
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The Change Mental Health Laws in Kentucky Project, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED!

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