Markell signs mental health bill

By Mellany Armstrong 1:13pm, July 24, 2012
No handcuffs, more advocates. That's the gist of a bill signed by Governor Markell that changes the way people with mental health issues are handled.

"To all of you, these are the bills, and they are now the law, and we are grateful to everybody who helped make it happen," Markell said.

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"This idea of making a major transformation, and making sure that people get care in the least restrictive setting possible, and that they can live in the least restrictive setting possible," Markell said.

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Allen Conover, executive director of the Rick VanStory Resource Center in Wilmington, says House Bill 311 allows a psychiatrist to evaluate a person anywhere.

"This happened yesterday, right out in front of this building, to somebody who was committed because they were having a rough time. The police came, handcuffed her and took her away. This bill stops that," he said.

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Matt Stehl is executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness in Delaware.

"Thing that were happening was that people were transported in police cars, whether there was a need there or not, to take them to the Delaware Psychiatric Center or one of the other psychiatric hospitals, so that will change with this bill," he said.

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Markell also signed a companion bill calling for a study group to take a look at the state's civil mental health laws.

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