New Laws for Outpatient Commitments
By Travis Berg
The Department of Social Services is clearing the road to mental health treatments. The Senate Health and Human Services Committee passed a bill streamlining the procedures. The proposal revises codes that haven't been updated in 20 years. It expands the qualifications for professionals to conduct a mental health evaluation. The bill provides for enforcement when patients don't comply with treatments. And, it also allows for a mental health board to recommend emergency treatment instead of a court. Dr. Matthew Stanley is with Avera McKennan's Behavioral Health Center. He says streamlining the process breaks barriers to treatment.
"We've tried to allow a little more latitude and flexibility, recognizing that counties and families all have barring access to courts. So we've added where a board is very active and efficient, we've actually tried to add the option where this emergency commitment could go through the court or a board of mental illness," Dr. Stanley says.
The bill is 39 pages long, and it revises almost 60 statutes. S-B 15 is debated next on the Senate floor.
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