Mental Competency Bill Proposed in Senate

State+for+local%2C+state%2C+national.+State+graphic+for+print.+Art+by+Aditi+Jain+

n/a

State for local, state, national. State graphic for print. Art by Aditi Jain

Minita Layal, Feature Editor

Lawmakers proposed Senate Bill 6109 in February which could provide treatment to patients with mental health issues without their consent. If passed, a pilot program would begin in King, Snohomish and Pierce Counties in January 2021 to provide treatment and personal care to mentally-ill patients who are deemed unable to care for themselves or have refused treatment. 

Proponents of the bill said that it will address the growing mental health crisis and will ensure that people get the help they need. The National Alliance on Mental Illness said that mental health patients can suffer from anosognosia, a condition where a person does not know they are experiencing any sort of suffering, rendering them incapable of taking care of themselves.  

However, those against the bill argue that the bill will do more harm than good as it will strip patients of some rights to their appointed guardian, such as the ability to marry, divorce, drive and other similar rights.

The bill defines incapacitated individuals as persons “at a significant risk of personal harm based on their inability to care for their own health, housing or safety.” 

According to Sen. Steve O’Ban of Pierce County, the primary sponsor of the bill, the mental health and addiction services that are currently in place are not effective in treating vulnerable patients. The CDC reported 45,000 suicides in the US in 2016, 46% of which were by those with a known mental illness. 

“Our mental health and addiction system of care is failing, in my view,” O’Ban said, “the most vulnerable.”