Governor signs mental health care caregiver bill

Courtesy photo: Champions of HB 1099 Doug O’Neill and Craig Pahl meet with District 7 Rep. Tim Reed to discuss legislation regarding mental health care caregivers.

BROOKINGS – A bill sponsored by District 7 Rep. Tim Reed to provide for the designation of a caregiver to receive information regarding residents of mental health care treatment facilities has been signed into law by Gov. Kristi Noem.

House Bill 1099 defines a caregiver and says that upon a patient’s admission to a treatment facility, the patient can appoint a caregiver. The caregiver will be notified of admission, any transfers and discharge of the patient. Also, upon discharge the caregiver will be given the patient’s after-discharge plan so they can assist with the patient’s aftercare needs.

The new law goes into effect on July 1.

Reed was the prime sponsor of the bill.

“This bill helps mental health patients achieve and maintain recovery,” he said during testimony in the House Health and Human Services Committee.

District 7 Sen. V.J. Smith during his introduction of HB 1099 in the Senate said that the bill acknowledges the caregiver as an important part of the continuum of mental health care and ensures the best possible outcome for mental health care patients and their loved ones.

The bill was championed by Brookings residents Doug O’Neill and Craig Pahl. O’Neill and Pahl are members of the Brookings Empowerment Project, a mental health advocacy group.

O’Neill and Pahl testified in support of the bill in the House Health and Human Services Committee hearing. 

Pahl said caregivers provide the link to the community for the people in their care and provide the capacity to deal with the circumstances in their time of crisis. 

O’Neill’s testimony included a personal experience involving the inability to be given information about a family member in an in-state treatment facility because of required protocols that often wrongly assume that a patient is rational and capable of making sound decisions.

Reed started working with O’Neill and Pahl on mental health care issues while he was mayor of Brookings.

Reed was appointed to serve on the 2018 Legislature’s interim committee to study access to mental health care and invited O’Neill and Pahl to testify to the committee on behalf of caregivers. Further discussions after the testimony lead to the drafting of HB 1099.

With the success of the 2019 legislation, O’Neill and Pahl plan to continue working with District 7 legislators on identifying gaps and improvements for mental health care patients and their caregivers.

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