—Legislation introduced by Rep. Thomas Murt (R-Montgomery) to change the standards used to help families intervene when someone with a mental illness is too sick to seek treatment has been signed into law by Gov. Tom Wolf.
House Bill 1233
, now Act 106 of 2018
, is designed to encourage a more effective use of outpatient services.
“I introduced this legislation because under previous law we had to wait until the individual became a danger to him or herself or others before we could help,” Murt said. “But an individual who poses a clear and present danger is too sick to be treated on an outpatient basis, which means outpatient commitment is rarely used in Pennsylvania.”
“The addition of community-based outpatient health treatment as part of the involuntary treatment spectrum is a significant step forward in helping vulnerable individuals access the services they need,” Wolf said.
Act 106 creates a new non-punitive process and a continuum of services for seriously mentally ill individuals who are unwilling or unable to voluntarily seek treatment. It establishes a new standard for court-ordered assisted outpatient treatment (AOT) in the community, while leaving in place the clear-and-present-danger standard for involuntary hospitalization.
The new standard will be based on a medical determination of whether a seriously mentally ill individual needs and can benefit from assisted outpatient treatment to survive safely in the community. The standard will also take into consideration an individual’s history of involuntary inpatient commitments and acts of violence to self or others.
The need for AOT will be shown by establishing evidence that the person will benefit from AOT as manifested by evidence of behavior that indicates all of the following:
- The person is unlikely to survive safely in the community without supervision, based on a clinical determination.
- The person has a history of lack of voluntary adherence to treatment for mental illness.
- As a result of the person’s mental illness, he or she is unlikely to voluntarily participate in necessary treatment.
- Based on the person’s treatment history and current behavior, he or she is in need of treatment in order to prevent a relapse or deterioration that would likely result in substantial risk of serious harm to self or others.
A person who meets only the AOT criteria as outlined above will not be subject to involuntary inpatient hospitalization.
Representative Thomas P. Murt
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: David Foster