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Gov. Blagojevich Signs Bill Improving Illinois' Mental Illness Treatment Law
Date:9/14/2007

NAMI Illinois and family members credited for removing requirement for "dangerousness"

ARLINGTON, Va., Sept. 14 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Governor Rod Blagojevich has signed Senate Bill 234 into law, to the elation of many who have been fighting for years to improve the state's strict mental illness treatment law. Illinois currently requires someone to be an actual physical danger to themselves or others before they can be court-ordered into mental illness treatment. The new law, which will go into effect June 2008, loosens that strict standard to allow earlier intervention for people with incapacitating symptoms of illnesses like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

"This measure opens far wider the door to needed treatment for a small group of people who are extremely ill," said Jonathan Stanley, acting executive director of the national Treatment Advocacy Center, a nonprofit dedicated to removing barriers to timely and effective treatment of severe mental illnesses. "Because of the work of so many advocates, Illinois' law has gone from one virtually mandating non-treatment of those lost to severe mental illnesses to one that can and will save lives. Illinois has joined the national trend toward making mental illness treatment laws more rational and humane."

This standard will make it easier to use assisted outpatient treatment (AOT) in Illinois. AOT has been shown to reduce rates of hospitalization, homelessness, arrests, and incarceration, saving both lives and money.

"The passage of SB 234 is a monumental victory for the mental health system in the State of Illinois," said Senator Dale Righter, the bill's chief sponsor, who along with Representative David Leitch guided the bill through the legislature. "The current criteria make it very difficult and sometimes impossible for individuals suffering from mental illness to get the help they need. In many instances, people stop taking necessary medications, and as a result, fail to
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SOURCE Treatment Advocacy Center
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