Nebraska Bill Proposes Changes to Emergency Mental Health

OMAHA, Nebraska (Nebraska) — Currently, under Nebraska law, if someone is facing a mental health crisis and is considered a danger to themselves or others, the only people who can place them in emergency protection are police officers.

“It is of great concern that the arrival of a police officer in an already stressful situation, handcuffing and placing a person in a guarded vehicle, and then transporting him to a medical facility or prison, can create an even more traumatic situation for this person.” says Lance Brown, assistant to State Senator Raymond Aguilar of Grand Island.

Aguilar introduced LB668, which would change existing laws to allow mental health professionals to make emergency protective custody decisions, known as EPCs.

“Law enforcement officers are not mental health professionals, but they can act like one, it’s counterintuitive, and sometimes they’re just necessary, but there are other alternatives,” says Lindsay Kroll, a psychiatrist. health coordinator for the Omaha Police Department.

The OPD and city officials worked with Aguilar to draft the bill.

“As mental health professionals, we want to provide the most effective, affordable, low-profile, or hassle-free support or treatment in the least restrictive setting to those we serve, and our ability to do so effectively is affected by the restriction of unrecognizability. a mental health professional under state law,” Kroll adds. “We must create alternatives beyond law enforcement for people to receive the necessary interventions for their safety to determine if involuntary care is needed to meet their mental health needs.”

Proponents argue that giving mental health professionals the ability to place someone in the EPC will allow more accurate care for those facing a crisis.

They also say it will ease the pressure on police officers.

“Law enforcement doesn’t want to deal with non-criminal cases, and by expanding certification, we can get help faster before things get worse,” Kroll said.

It is also hoped that the bill will help remove the stigma and reduce the trauma some may experience due to the mental health crisis.

“As politicians, we should try to avoid criminalizing this situation and find a reasonable solution in certain mental health scenarios,” says Brown.

The bill is still being discussed in the judicial committee.

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