HB 588 Gets “Do Pass”
SANTA FE – Emotional testimony was heard Tuesday in the House Health, Government, and Indian Affairs Committee regarding House Bill 588 “Community Engagement Teams” (CETs.)
HB 588 sponsored by House Majority Leader, Rick Miera (D-Bernalillo-11) establishes methods of intervention for families who are caring for their loved ones who are mentally ill and unable to care for themselves.
In gut wrenching testimony, some people described how their mentally ill family members often cycle in and out of jail or hospitals or end up homeless.
One police officer said the Bernalillo County jail is the largest mental health facility in the state – as many with mental illness end up behind bars.
The Community Engagement Teams (CETs) established in HB 588 would assist clients who are “unlikely to live safely in their community” and who are deemed incapable of making treatment decisions.
CETs (comprised of medical specialists) would also make determinations as to which citizens of the state may be in need of treatment guardians.
The concept of CETs came from a task force that was launched in 2011 to address several bills regarding changes to the Mental Health and Disabilities Code (MHDC.)
This concept of outreach does not formally exist anywhere in the country. HB 588 will provide for a five-year pilot project.
“It is a noble effort to respond to a very complex problem dealing with severe mental illness,” House Majority Leader Rick Miera said. “The CET model is intended to help mentally ill person who are unable to live safely in the community to access treatment in time to prevent them from becoming a danger to themselves or others in the first place.”
Miera said early detection and targeted intervention by professional have been shown to lessen the duration and severity of mental illness and improve the long term outcome for the mentally ill.
A program like this is also likely to result in savings to local government and law enforcement by reducing the need for response by law enforcement and for detention in the county facilities.
HB 588 passed unanimously in the HHGIC. The bill will now go to the House Judiciary Committee for consideration. You can read HB 588 by clicking here
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