Friday, January 10, 2014

SB 50 is a "life saving" AOT bill for Kentucky

AOT saves lives, helps families help their loved ones, and saves state funds. SB 50 is a comprehensive bill that can actually be implemented.

Please thank Senator Denton for sponsoring an “assisted outpatient treatment" (AOT) bill called SB 50
Phone: (502) 564-8100 Ext. 646 
Email: click here 

Summary: This bill creates a new section in the KRS 202A, and makes it easier for District Courts to order outpatient community mental health treatment outside a hospital. This bill will allow individuals who are too ill to understand they need help (who have been diagnosed with a severe and persistent mental illness) the opportunity to receive treatment in a less-restrictive environment. 

Currently an individual can only qualify for court-ordered outpatient treatment if they are already in a hospital. Most who become a danger to self or others and meet inpatient criteria end up in jail or prison, long before they receive the help they so desperately need.  

In the past 31 years, the current community based outpatient agreed order under the KRS 202A.081 did not provide a safety net provision for those noncompliant with their treatment plan. This is one reason of many it has been woefully underutilized. 

Currently there are many treatments, programs and resources available for individuals with disabilities to regain their life — yet if an individual with a psychiatric disorder/brain disease does not believe they are sick and become incompetent (too sick to ask for help), there is no way they can access services. 

This in turn, sets the individual up for failure when they are released such as a criminal record that prohibits them from gaining employment, housing, shelters, etc.

Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) Teams or Intensive Case Management (ICM) are wonderful resources for these individuals, but without AOT first  — it is rare for this subset of individuals struggling with psychiatric disorders/brain diseases to sustain stability.

SB 50 bill sets up a comprehensive system for Kentucky to implement court-ordered outpatient treatment including: 
  1. The development of a treatment plan unique to each individual.
  2. The process for hearings authorization of a 72-hour if failure to comply with orders.
  3. It provides for the right to stay, vacate, or modify orders.
  4. It provides for a process to change a treatment plan.
  5. It authorizes extension of orders and repeals KRS 202A.081. 
SB 50 creates a new code that contains new criteria for court ordered outpatient treatment. Criterion for court ordered outpatient treatment:
(1) Based on clinical observation and a review of treatment history, a person suffering from severe mental illness if not treated is likely to:
(a) Cause the person to present a danger or threat of danger to self or others; (b) Cause the person severe mental, emotional or physical harm.; (c) Significantly impair the person’s judgment, reasoning, functioning or capacity to recognize reality. (d) Substantially diminish the person’s ability to make informed decisions regarding or his or her need for sustained medical treatment. 

(2) Unlikely to adequately adhere to outpatient treatment on a voluntary basis as demonstrated by the person’s prior history of treatment, non adherence or specific characteristics of the person’s clinical condition that prevent the person from making rational and informed decisions regarding mental health treatment; and

(3) In need of court ordered outpatient treatment as the least restrictive alternative mode of treatment presently available and appropriate. 

Behind the wall: I am the Mother of a gifted man who has many talents and abilities. My son has a brilliant IQ, excellent communication skills and unquenchable drive for success! Unfortunately, his untreated brain disease, holds him back! 
"Each time a mass shooting or a preventable tragedy appears in the media, everyone asks, “where are the parents?" Yet the family’s hands are tied — we have no rights to help protect ourselves or help our loved ones receive necessary treatment." 
A Few Facts: SB 50 is for families who have loved ones trapped in the revolving door – too compromised to utilize voluntary resources and medical services, yet not “dangerous enough” to meet the overly restrictive inpatient criteria! Even if an individual is hospitalized, 72 hours or a few days – is not long enough to find the road to recovery.
  • To complicate matters, the first psychotic break usually appears in late teens or early adulthood, while the young brain is still developing. This is also the around the time many begin to experiment with illegal and dangerous substances, that can also bring on the early onset of psychiatric disorders such as Schizophrenia and Bipolar disorder.
  • 1 in 4 individuals will develop a psychiatric disorder/mental illness in their lifetime, but only 1 in 17 — suffer from a "serious" mental illness or debilitating brain disease. 40-50% of this 1 in 17 group, do not recognize they are ill due to lack of insight or Anosognosia. Anosognosia, is an anatomical brain condition that makes a person unable to recognize their own illness – no matter how painfully obvious it may be to everyone around them.
  • Without an AOT law there are no safety nets to help these individuals, (many under the age of 21) receive needed treatment and resources, which eliminates them from becoming disabled by irreversible brain damage!  
  • Essentially, the current mental health law in KY lacks emergency programs, leaving the sickest and most vulnerable individuals accountable for their own disease, and then discriminates against these same individuals due to their symptoms.
  • Civil rights attorneys fight to protect these individuals from being hospitalized against their will, (even when they are too ill to understand they are psychotic) ... which leads to the loss of their civil rights after they are dumped in overcrowded jails! 
Currently, if your family member becomes a danger in your home, both Kentucky mental health providers and law enforcement, encourages these families who are in crises, to file restraining orders against our own family members  — during an acute psychotic break! How would you like to force your sick loved one surviving his first serious bout with cancer — to live on the streets? 

If you compare the seriousness of this psychiatric disease to heart disease, then we would be forcing a person who is having a heart attack “to jail” with the hope that months later, they will eventually find needed treatment!

SB 50 will help Kentucky families, it will save lives, and it will save state funds. It will help STOP the revolving door.
Please help us pass SB 50! Call (502) 564-8100 Ext. 646 and state you support this bill!

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