A new state law will make it much easier for first responders to be kept informed about a patient’s mental health safety plan, allowing for a safer transition for the patient back into the community following a crisis.
Indiana House Enrolled Act 1118 allows for a representative of an integrated health care 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.
Hamilton County Councilor Steve Nation, a former judge, collaborated with lawmakers to craft the new law.
“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 stated. “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-Carmel) applauds the new law, calling it a “step in the right direction” to help endangered adults receive follow-up care and also connect them with services in their community 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 stated. “Allowing these trained paramedics access to the individual’s safety plan will ensure the person in need will get the proper treatment and care.”
Nation estimates up to 800 people in Hamilton County could benefit from the bill, which will become law on July 1.
“If you’re in the middle of a mental health crisis, you’re not thinking, ‘Here’s what I need’ or ‘Here’s what’s available,’” Nation said. “(The law) is trying to help people in the midst of a mental health crisis to have adequate services and to get them there and help pass the crisis.”
The law also allows paramedicine groups to share information and reports about a patient.
“Say there’s a patient who has an episode in Carmel, lives in Noblesville but receives services in Fishers,” Nation said. “This is just giving other options to that person or that family to see the options that are out there. 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. We need to figure out how to identify these folks before that happens.”