Senator Wants Faster, Public Answers from Mental Health Institutions
Senator Bettye Davis is sponsoring a bill meant to give a voice to mental patients.
ANCHORAGE - The Alaska Psychiatric Institute (API) is the state’s largest psychiatric facility and most of the people who spend time there don’t check-in voluntarily. So if a patient has a problem with their treatment, how do they know that someone is listening?
“If there’s a problem we are on it within eight hours,” said API CEO Ron Alder. “I can’t tell you how proud I am of that.”
But others want more information, like Senator Bettye Davis.
“They might seem to think what they are doing at API is working, but it’s internal not for the public to know what’s going on and many people who have mental problems are not even able to speak for themselves.”
Davis is sponsoring a bill meant to give a voice to mental patients. At an Anchorage hearing, on Tuesday, one woman testified it’s about time.
“People are complaining, but the complaints aren’t going far,” said former patient Faith Myers.
“Not ever recorded and no written response no paper trail,” said Myers. ”Sometimes people are not even told they have the right to complain.”
The bill would require that every psychiatric facility in the state both public and private have the same grievance procedure. People with complaints could get help filing them from an outside agency and they could expect a written response with a certain number of days. Psychiatric facilities would also have to be more accountable to the public about the types of complaints that have been filed as well how they were resolved.
Senate Bill 55 has been before the legislature before, but has never advanced for a vote. Davis hopes this time around will be different.