Advocacy E-News July 3, 2014
July 3, 2014
GOVERNOR CHRISTIE SENDS LEGISLATURE MENTAL HEALTH REFORMS
Under current law, New Jersey uses one standard for involuntary inpatient and outpatient commitment: whether the individual’s mental illness causes the person to be dangerous and the person is unwilling to accept treatment voluntarily. Under the Governor’s proposed reforms, a new standard for involuntary commitment will be created to include individuals who are not currently dangerous but whose mental illness, if untreated, could deteriorate to the point of harm, and treats potentially dangerous mental illnesses different from other cognitive disabilities to ensure they are treated appropriately.
CHRISTIE VETOES GUN BILL, ADDS MENTAL HEALTH
Christie today conditionally vetoed legislation (A2006), but he did more than propose changes. He completely rewrote it, eliminating the ammunition capacity reduction and suggesting in its place several changes to the state’s mental health system that he first proposed more than a year ago. Christie proposed a new standard for involuntary commitment of patients who are not necessarily deemed dangerous “but whose mental illness, if untreated, could deteriorate to the point of harm.” Phillip Lubitz, associate director for the National Alliance on Mental Illness in New Jersey, said the governor’s proposal is good news, and hopes the legislature will act and change the law soon.
DMHAS AWARDS INVOLUNTARY OUTPATIENT PROGRAMS IN 10 COUNTIES
The New Jersey Division of Mental Health and Addictions Services (DMHAS) has awarded Involuntary Outpatient Commitment (IOC) programs in 10 counties, bringing to 16 the number of counties with IOC. These program awards reiterates the state’s obligation to provide treatment in the least restrictive appropriate setting, even if the consumer will not consent to treatment, by permitting a judge to order outpatient treatment for individuals who meet the state’s commitment standard. DMHAS intends to solicit proposals for the state’s remaining 5 counties later in the year.
WHY LAW ENFORCEMENT MISSED WARNINGS SIGNS
We should never presume that anyone can predict a specific atrocity. After a mass shooting, the red flags look so much more obvious than they possible could have before. Still, it’s worth asking whether mental health and law enforcement authorities could mount a better, more systematic response when a potentially dangerous person comes to their attention. Most police officers have frequent contact with people with mental illness, but have minimal training in recognizing the symptoms and assessing when they should be taken to a clinic or emergency room for further evaluation. Perhaps the most useful intervention … is to provide police officers with some good, basic mental health knowledge.