The Interim Children, Families, Health and Human Services Committee of the Montana Legislature finished up its work yesterday. One of their main efforts was a study of Montana’s public institutions and how they care for people with serious mental illnesses. Representative Jenny Eck developed the study proposal based on a NAMI Montana request.
The Interim Legislative Committee and staff tackled this massive, complex and unavoidable problem. It was really contentious; but they were able to come up with strong bipartisan solutions to challenges which include a State Hospital that is well over capacity. limited options for transitioning forensic patients back the community, and a dramatic rise in children placed in residential treatment facilities.
Some of the highlights of the bills they developed are:
- Significant investment in community mental health crisis services to help people get treatment in their community and avoid stays at Montana State Hospital and correctional facilities.
- Significant investment in transitioning forensic patients out of Montana State Hospital/Montana State Prison and back in the community.
- Significant investment in developing community crisis services for youth to reduce suicide and reduce the number of children placed in residential treatment facilities.
- The expansion of mobile crisis teams to care for people with co-occurring mental illness and developmental disabilities before they require hospitalization.
These bills offer tangible methods to help Montana families access effective care in their communities to minimize expensive stays at state institutions and residential treatment facilities. They were developed with input from a large number of organizations including: mental health providers, the Resident Council at MSH, Disability Rights Montana, the ACLU, law enforcement, Montana’s County Attorney Association, the Montana Association of Counties, developmental disability advocates, and others. The specifics of the Committee’s efforts are available at the Committee website.
The members of this committee are: Senator Dave Wanzenried (D) (Chairman), Rep. Ron Ehli (R) (Vice-Chairman), Rep. Carolyn Pease-Lopez (D), Rep. Scott Reichner (R), Rep. Casey Schreiner (D), Senator Terry Murphy (R), Senator Roger Web (R), and Senator Jonathan Windy Boy (D). They each played a critical role in finding ways to improve Montana’s mental illness treatment system. If you’d like to thank them, their contact information is available at this link.
If you’d like to support the Committee’s work, please take few minutes and ask Governor Steve Bullock to support the Interim Children and Family Committee’s efforts to improve Montana’s mental illness treatment system. You can call the Governor’s office at (406) 444-3111 or send him a message through this link.
Please support the fight against mental illness by donating to Montana’s NAMIWalk. You can make a donation at my Walk page. Thanks for supporting this critical cause!