Two bills improving services to people with mental illness were signed into Utah law this week, allocating $24 million for the first year and $17 million in ongoing funds. These bills seek to keep people out of the hospital if possible, and also to make sure that if a person in crisis needs hospitalization, there’s a bed available.
“So HB 32 provides mobile crisis outreach teams to areas of the state that currently don’t have them, our rural areas,” said Representative Steve Eliason, a Republican from Sandy who sponsored the bills.
“Mental health professionals come to individuals’ homes, and can help them out of the hospital or emergency room,” he said. “The bill also creates the first statewide warm line, which is just a step below the suicide prevention crisis line, that individuals can call. It’s anonymous, confidential, and of course there’s no cost to individuals accessing that.”
The new legislation also provides for peer support.
“Peer supports are folks who experience mental illness and have specific training to help their peers who are currently in crisis and experiencing similar situations to what they’ve gone through,” said Andrew Riggle with the Disability Law Center in Salt Lake City.
“The research and experts tell us that peers are a very important part to the success of any community-based mental health system. About 40 percent of the calls we receive each year are from individuals either with a mental health need or with questions about resources related to mental health or mental illness,” Riggle said.