Murt Bill to Reform Standards for Receiving Mental Health Treatment Sent to Governor
HARRISBURG—Legislation introduced by Rep. Thomas Murt (R-Montgomery) to change the standards used to help families intervene when someone with a mental illness is too sick to seek treatment has passed the Senate and has been sent to Gov. Tom Wolf.  

House Bill 1233 is designed to encourage a more effective use of outpatient services. 

“Under existing law, we must wait until the individual becomes a danger to him or herself or others before we can help,” Murt said.  “But an individual who poses a clear and present danger is too sick to be treated on an outpatient basis, which means outpatient commitment is rarely used in Pennsylvania.” 

Murt’s legislation would create a new non-punitive process and a continuum of services for seriously mentally ill individuals who are unwilling or unable to voluntarily seek treatment.  It would establish a new standard for court-ordered assisted outpatient treatment (AOT) in the community, while leaving in place the clear-and-present-danger standard for involuntary hospitalization.

The new standard would be based on a medical determination of whether a seriously mentally ill individual needs and can benefit from assisted outpatient treatment to survive safely in the community. The standard would also take into consideration an individual’s history of involuntary inpatient commitments and acts of violence to self or others. 

The need for AOT would be shown by establishing evidence that the person would benefit from AOT as manifested by evidence of behavior that indicates all of the following:

The person is unlikely to survive safely in the community without supervision, based on a clinical determination.

The person has a history of lack of voluntary adherence to treatment for mental illness.

As a result of the person’s mental illness, he or she is unlikely to voluntarily participate in necessary treatment.

Based on the person’s treatment history and current behavior, he or she is in need of treatment in order to prevent a relapse or deterioration that would likely result in substantial risk of serious harm to self or others.

A person who meets only the AOT criteria as outlined above would not be subject to involuntary inpatient hospitalization. 

“Assisted outpatient treatment can help individuals avoid inpatient commitment, as well as provide critical step-down services in the community for those who are being discharged from inpatient facilities,” Murt said. 

Representative Thomas P. Murt
152nd District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

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