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Bill would give more power to people with mental illnesses

Posted at 3:25 PM, Feb 06, 2019

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — A new bill has been introduced to give Nebraskans a couple more options to determine what kind of treatment they do or don't want when they can't speak for themselves, especially people diagnosed with mental illness.

State Senator, Kate Bolz, introduced Legislative Bill 247 Friday. The bill would allow people diagnosed with mental illness to fill out advance health care directives to spell out what kind of treatment they want if they become too sick to make competent decisions. Bolz said the bill was brought to her by concerned constituents who wanted more options and opportunity for choices. "An individual who has a diagnosis of depression may have had several episodes of depression throughout their life and may have learned things about their preferences and their health care choices through those experiences, they may be able to say ahead of time, hey the next time I have an episode of depression I want a certain kind of care," said Bolz.

Jacob Dahlke is the ethics director at Nebraska Medicine. He said advanced health care directives are pretty well established in the medical field. Currently 30 states have mental health care directives.

These directives can also designate someone to be in charge of making decisions and can be revised as often as needed or wanted. "The situation can get really complicated really quickly and when you have a patient that doesn't have capacity to make there own decisions we often have to rely on other people and what this document does is creates a situation where we have more clarity as to what the patient themselves actually want," said Dahlke.

The bill has been heard by the judiciary committee, after an amendment is added to the bill, Bolz said she hopes to have it move onto the floor this year.