‘Team approach’ may expedite help for many who wouldn’t go otherwise

Kentucky latest to consider 'Tim's Law'

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – The House Health and Family Services Committee passed a measure expediting services for those in need of court-ordered assisted outpatient treatment (AOT). A bipartisan measure, HB 127 expands access to “Tim’s Law,” an evidence-based treatment program that creates more effective avenues for mental health treatment.

Tim’s Law allows state courts to order AOT for individuals grappling with recovery and are unlikely to seek treatment on their own. The law is intended to help someone with serious mental illness break the cycle of involuntary hospitalizations, incarceration, and homelessness by using a support network approach, typically comprised of a judge and community health providers.

The prevention solution is cost-effective as well—the Commonwealth is projected to save an average of $100,00 per individual that goes through the treatment strategy compared to the de facto cycle.

“This bill instills hope for communities that don’t always get the care they need and often are forgotten about,” said Representative Ken Fleming, the Louisville Republican who cosponsored the bill. “We have to find ways to get them out of this revolving situation that often leads right to harmful behaviors. It’s a system of care we’re building, one that helps individuals manage their lives better and provides the right tools for a successful recovery.

Over the course of the interim, many discussions focused on treating Kentuckians with severe mental illnesses, specifically the impact of not taking medication correctly and barriers to medication use. Lawmakers spotted an underlying theme that individuals grappling with these issues are more effective on the road to recovery when they have a community support system rather than living in an institution.

“We know from the experience of more than 40 other states that court-ordered assisted outpatient treatment works,” said Representative Lisa Willner, a Louisville Democratic who also cosponsored HB 127. “This humane and compassionate approach is working in a limited way here in Kentucky; this bill would remove barriers so that more people with severe mental illness are able to benefit.”

Kentucky became the 45th state to adopt Tim’s Law in 2017 with a pilot program throughout the Greater Louisville region. According to mental health experts, the measure has proven effective in allowing families, mental health providers, law enforcement officers, and others to help someone with a serious mental illness.

Categories: News, State News

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