The Utah Division of Mental Health wants lawmakers to approve a bill that would define "severe mental illness" and establish who can be treated at the Utah State Hospital.
The bill, which will be introduced in next month's session, would establish a Mental Health and Corrections Advisory Council to advise Corrections on who could be treated at the hospital.Keith Stroud, Mental Health Division director, asked lawmakers for a study of whom the State Hospital should serve. The legislation, already approved by the Social Services Interim Committee, reflects the findings of a subcommittee that studied the question, said Bryant Howe, legislative research analyst and subcommittee member.
The state hospital, according to the legislation, should treat adults with severe mental disorders, those under 18 for whom no less restrictive treatment is appropriate, people in the custody of the Department of Corrections who are mentally ill (with priority given to those with severe mental disorders), those found not guilty of a crime by reason of insanity, those found guilty and mentally ill, anyone deemed incompetent for court proceedings and placed at the hospital to restore competency, and those who are being evaluated to determine competency.
The bill defines severe mental disorders as "schizophrenia, major depression, bipolar disorders, dysthymia, delusional disorders, psychotic disorders and other mental disorders as defined by the board."
The advisory council would, by law, be comprised of the Mental Health division director, the hospital superintendent, the director of the Department of Corrections (any of these people would be able to appoint someone to serve in his place) and a member of the Board of Pardons, as well as others they might decide upon.
The council's job would be to advise the director concerning state hospital admissions from the Department of Corrections, develop policies to coordinate between Corrections and Mental Health and offer advice about care for mentally ill persons in the corrections system.
If Corrections places someone at the state hospital, it would contract with the state hospital and pay for treatment with Corrections funds. Corrections would also pay for that type of treatment in community mental health programs.
The bill, if approved, would take effect July 1.