One of the most difficult challenges that those who love individuals with mental illness face is a condition known as Anosognosia which means “lack of insight”. Anosognosia interferes with the ability of the person with mental illness to recognize the need for psychiatric treatment. There are times in which the person with mental illness needs treatment but is unable to seek treatment because of a lack of insight into the need for treatment. Michigan’s Assisted Outpatient Treatment Law, also known as Kevin’s Law, provides a solution to the problems that can arise when an individual who needs psychiatric services is unable to seek treatment on his/her own.
Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) in Michigan is a little-known and underutilized law that allows those with serious mental illnesses who have difficulty recognizing their need for treatment to have access to outpatient mental health services. Kevin’s Law was signed into law in 2005, but it was complicated and difficult to utilize. It was revised and the revisions were adopted by the legislature early in 2017. The Mental Health Association in Michigan (MHAM) is pleased to be able to offer training to families, loved ones, services providers and others who are interested in learning more about Kevin’s Law and how it can be a useful tool when an individual is not able to recognize the need for treatment.
According to an article that appeared in the January 10, 2017 edition of the Bridge Magazine (Ted Roelofs) that describes AOT:
The new measure revises Michigan’s mental health code and simplifies the process of seeking court‐ ordered outpatient treatment for an individual. It allows outside parties – including the individual’s family – to petition for treatment while an individual is in a psychiatric hospital. Critically, the revisions also allow a court to order treatment if an individual’s judgment is so impaired by mental illness he or she is unable to understand the need for treatment, thus creating a substantial risk of future harm. Courts previously had to be convinced by an individual’s behavior he was an imminent danger to himself or others. At its heart, the new measure is designed to help unstable individuals before they reach the crisis point.
MHAM offers a full training that explains Kevin’s Law/AOT upon request. MHAM will provide the training in-person materials for your group. For more information, please contact Mark Reinstein at 517.898.3907.
Mark Reinstein, Ph.D., President/CEO, MHAM