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Governor Granholm Signs Kevin's Law, Creates New Treatment Options for Mentally Ill

December 29, 2004

LANSING – Governor Jennifer M. Granholm today signed legislation that will improve care for Michigan citizens with severe mental illness. The new law will allow courts to order treatment for individuals with serious mental illness who do not meet the current criteria for involuntary hospitalization but who need outpatient mental health treatment to protect themselves and others

Kevin’s law – outlined in a four-bill package – will create new treatment options for individuals with severe mental illness who are not receiving or are not complying with recommended mental health treatment.

"Kevin’s Law will help citizens whose illness has temporarily impaired their understanding of the need for treatment," said Granholm. "It will allow families and friends of the individual to petition the court to order appropriate outpatient mental health care, reducing the risk of adverse events for both the individual and the community."

Kevin’s Law amends the Michigan Mental Health Code by establishing criteria for Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) under court order. AOT is a comprehensive array of mental health services and supports tailored to the needs of the individual and provided through the individual’s local Community Mental Health Services Program (CMHSP).

An individual who is ordered to receive AOT must meet the definition of a "person requiring treatment" under a new section of the Mental Health Code. This new section expands the definition of a "person requiring treatment" to include those who are mentally ill but are noncompliant with recommended mental health treatment, and such noncompliance has previously resulted in hospitalization, incarceration, or violent threats or actions.

"Kevin’s Law is about protection for the individual and the community," Granholm said. "Too often an individual whose judgment has been impaired by mental illness does not receive or comply with treatment recommendations, and this has serious consequences for the individual and/or the community. This legislation is an attempt to prevent such avoidable tragedies, so that the person can remain safely in the community, and the community can be assured that the person is receiving necessary treatment and services."

This package of legislation has four bills, as detailed below:

SB 683 (PA 496) expands the definition of "person requiring treatment," for the purpose of court ordered involuntary treatment, to include an individual who has a mental illness and who is noncompliant with treatment recommended by a mental health professional. Also, noncompliance must have been a factor in the individual’s placement in a psychiatric hospital, prison, or jail at least twice within the last 48 months or the individual has at least once in the last 48 months attempted, acted on, or threatened serious violent behavior.

SB 684 (PA 497) adds a section to the Michigan Mental Health Code which describes the process for filing a petition that an individual is a "person requiring treatment" and in need of AOT. This bill specifies that the new section does not negate or interfere with an individual’s right to appeal under any other state law or Michigan court rule.

SB 685 (PA 498) provides specific limits to the duration of an AOT order. This bill also specifies that if an agency or mental health professional determines that an individual is not complying with the AOT court order, then the court could require the individual to be hospitalized for the duration of the order.

SB 686 (PA 499) defines AOT and lists possible categories of services that could be prescribed. AOT includes intensive case management services or assertive community team treatment services to provide care coordination. Further, this bill requires the Michigan Department of Community Health to submit to the Legislature an annual report concerning AOT services in Michigan.

Early next week, Granholm is expected to act on a companion package of bills, Senate Bills 1464-1472, that would allow an individual to designate a patient advocate to exercise powers regarding his or her mental health decisions.