Gov. Baldacci Signs New Law to Bring Assisted Outpatient Treatment to Mainers with Severe Mental Illness
ARLINGTON, Va.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Maine Governor John Baldacci today signed into law LD 1360, making Maine the 44th state to adopt assistant outpatient treatment. The law improves Maine's ability to provide treatment to people with severe mental illnesses by allowing for outpatient commitment as an alternative to inpatient hospitalization.
"As has been shown in other states — especially in New York, where multiple studies have documented the very positive outcomes in terms of reduced hospitalizations, reduced incarceration and better adherence to treatment — compassionate outpatient commitment works,” said James Pavle, Executive Director of the Treatment Advocacy Center. “Maine is now the 44th state to provide another tool to get people help before they become dangerous.”
Championed by state Senators John Nutting (D-Leeds) and Peter Mills (R-Corvine), LD 1360 was supported by the courts, psychiatrists and families.
"We adopted today a law that will be immensely helpful to victims of mental illness and to their families. Today's achievement was in no small measure the product of thoughtful analysis and powerful advocacy of the Treatment Advocacy Center. Their timely assistance was crucial to our success," said Sen. Mills.
“This new law is a breakthrough. Not only will it protect rights, it will also provide safety and quality of life for the individuals, their families and the community,” said Joe Bruce, a Caratunk, Maine resident who worked with Sens. Nutting and Mills to change the law. Bruce became a prominent mental health reform advocate after his family was afflicted by a tragedy caused by mental illness that went untreated.
The new law helps those who are incapable of seeking treatment voluntarily, and those whose conditions have deteriorated as a result of rejecting treatment, by authorizing a court to require a severely mentally ill individual to participate in treatment as a condition for remaining in the community.
Treatment non-adherence is a problem for some individuals with the most severe mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, which can render an individual unable to recognize his or her illness and need for treatment — a condition called anosognosia. LD 1360 allows such individuals suffering from severe mental illness to be treated in the community rather than a more restrictive hospital setting.
KEYWORDS: United States North America Maine Virginia
INDUSTRY KEYWORDS: Health Hospitals Public Policy/Government Mental Health Courts Public Policy State/Local