Wednesday, May 12, 2021 4:00 AM
Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb recently signed into law Indiana House Enrolled Act 1118 (IN HB1118), which aims to facilitate the sharing of mental health safety plans with first responders to ensure the safe transition of patients back into a community.
Former judge and current Hamilton County Councilor Steve Nation collaborated with local lawmakers to help craft this new law to help more Hoosiers struggling with mental health challenges. According to Nation, this would allow a representative of a mobile integrated healthcare program or a representative of a mental health community paramedicine program to request a patient’s individualized mental health safety plan from a psychiatric crisis center, psychiatric inpatient unit, or psychiatric residential treatment provider if certain conditions are met.
“As it is, those who are transported by police or paramedics to a psychiatric center are evaluated, given a mental health safety plan, and sent on their way,” Nation explains. “This law allows the transporting agency to request a copy of that safety plan so it can follow up with the patient and offer them the services and support they need to get back on their feet.”
State Rep. Donna Schaibley (R) carried the bill across the finish line to the governor’s desk during the 2021 legislative session. She said this new law is a step in the right direction to help endangered adults get follow-up care and connect them to services to improve their quality of life.
“This is a community-based solution to help our state’s most vulnerable Hoosiers through a crisis situation and beyond that immediate emergency care,” Schaibley said. “Allowing these trained paramedics access to the individual’s safety plan will ensure the person in need will get the proper treatment and care.”
This legislation was also co-authored by State Reps. Jerry Torr (R) and Cindy Ledbetter (R). It was sponsored and co-sponsored by State Sens. Scott Baldwin (R), Michael Crider (R), JD Ford (D), Mike Bohacek (R), and Lonnie Randolph (D) and the bill made its way through the Senate.
“Oftentimes, we have no way of identifying the folks in our community who need mental health support until they’ve committed a crime or are arrested,” Nation says. “We need to figure out how to identify these folks before that happens.”
Nation estimates up to 800 people in Hamilton County could benefit from HEA 1118. The bill will become law on July 1, 2021.