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SB 43 - clarifying outpatient treatment passed into law

The OPPA actively supported, and was a key player in, deliberations and advancement of Senate Bill 43, a bill signed into law last week by Gov. John Kasich, which seeks to significantly improve and clarify Ohio’s court-ordered outpatient treatment of mentally ill persons.

Even though court-ordered treatment (including for outpatient services) has long been a legal option in Ohio, until this point, only Summit and Butler counties have managed to issue assisted outpatient treatment orders successfully. Elsewhere, ambiguity in the wording of the law and uncertainty about how to apply it led to its under-use – and left countless individuals with serious mental illness stuck in the revolving door of hospitalization, incarceration and homelessness, and all too sadly, the victims of suicide.

OPPA Member and a past-president of the association, Mark Munetz, MD, The Margaret Clark Morgan Endowed Chair and Professor of Psychiatry at NEOMED, was instrumental in working with NAMI Ohio and The Treatment Advocacy Center to craft language in the bill that will encourage greater implementation of outpatient treatment by improving the state’s commitment standard and by allowing private individuals – including family members – to petition the courts for involuntary commitment of a person in need of treatment.

The legislation also seeks to properly define the types of treatment that may be included as part of someone’s court order as well as inserting a copy of the state’s existing affidavit form into code.  This was done so that anyone, including a family member, knows where to locate this form and where to file it.

The OPPA would like to thank the many OPPA members, families and stakeholder groups who fought for the law’s passage under the persistent leadership of NAMI Ohio.

We also offer thanks to the legislation’s primary sponsors: Sen. Dave Burke (R-Marysville), Sen. Charleta Tavares (D-Columbus). In addition, we thank Rep. Peter Stautberg (R-Anderson Township) and Rep. Margaret Ann Ruhl (R-Mount Vernon) who shepherded the bill in the Ohio House of Representatives. Through many hearings and votes in the Ohio House and Senate, their hard work and dedication to this important cause resulted in unanimous approval in both the Ohio House and Senate.

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