Beck law takes bold step forward in state mental health services

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A new state law co-sponsored by State Rep. Lisa Beck (D-Lakes of the Four Seasons) that takes effect July 1 will take a significant step forward in helping officials identify and treat people with mental illnesses in Indiana.

Public Law 225 (Senate Enrolled Act 359) sets a framework for the creation of individualized mental health safety plans that can help patients successfully transition back into their homes and communities. These plans will be formulated with guidelines established through the state’s Division of Mental Health and Addiction and developed by psychiatric crisis centers, inpatient units, and residential treatment providers.

“This plan will include such things as early warning signs that a problem might be developing with an individual, strategies that health care professionals have determined will help this patient cope with a problem, and people who can be contacted in the event a problem does arise,” Beck said. “When helping a person deal with a mental illness, the goal is to find ways to help that person address the issues that cause stress to help them return safely to their homes and communities.”

Beck noted that the plan would be helpful to first responders in the event of an emergency.

“If someone with mental illness has an emergency, their plan will be shared with officials at school, and safety personnel like paramedics, law enforcement and firefighters,” Beck said. “It would give those professionals an idea of the best way to interact with a person after a traumatic event has occurred. They would know how to reach caregivers, whether medication is needed, and what types of things can be done to help the person relax.

“These ideas can defuse a potentially dangerous situation, and help officials find solutions through treatment, rather than arresting someone,” she continued.

“What I like about this law is that it recognizes that circumstances are different for each person, and that there is a way to help without relying upon the criminal justice system,” Beck said. “These plans offer a chance for someone to get the help they truly need and deserve.”

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