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05/17/2024 08:09 PM
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
https://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/Legis/CSM/showMemoPublic.cfm?chamber=H&SPick=20130&cosponId=9924
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House of Representatives
Session of 2013 - 2014 Regular Session

MEMORANDUM

Posted: December 11, 2012 01:55 PM
From: Representative Mario M. Scavello
To: All House members
Subject: Assisted Outpatient Treatment
 
I am reintroducing House Bill 58, amending the Mental Health Procedures Act (1976 Act 143). The legislative intent of 1976 was to ensure that persons with the most severe forms of mental illness had a way get court ordered treatment either in hospitals or in the community. The proposed legislation would provide a way to realize that intent through Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT). It would provide care in the community to the most ill, making use of existing services and program. As a result, those who are least aware of their illness, would NOT be excluded from receiving services already available to others in Pennsylvania.

The standard used for commitment under the current Mental Health Procedures Act is whether the person poses a “clear and present” danger to self or others. Unfortunately, in most cases, by the time an individual with severe and untreated mental illness (i.e., schizophrenia or bipolar disorder) meets this tough standard, inpatient treatment (hospitalization, but even more often, incarceration) is necessitated by the presenting dire circumstances. This legislation slightly modifies the outpatient standard so that persons who are most at risk for homelessness, arrest, incarceration or death due to their untreated mental illness can, in fact, receive treatment in the community. Impaired awareness of illness (a neurological symptom known as anosognosia) is the main reason why individuals with severe mental illness do not take their medication and do not recognize their need for treatment.

The purpose of AOT is to provide treatment before harm or violence occurs and without unnecessarily institutionalizing individuals with severe mental illness. While the current law recognizes the need for outpatient treatment, this bill is necessary to provide a framework for AOT so that it can be implemented. The standard for placing an individual in AOT will be easier to meet than the current clear and present danger standard. An individual may be ordered to participate in outpatient treatment if the court finds that there is a history of not complying with treatment and the treatment is necessary to prevent a relapse or deterioration which may result in harm to self or to others.

Please see the attachment to view the language of the proposed legislation.


View Attachment


Introduced as HB550