A new state law will make it possible for family members to have a mentally ill loved one involuntarily admitted for treatment if they fear that someone could get harmed.

A new state law will make it possible for family members to have a mentally ill loved one involuntarily admitted for treatment if they fear that someone could get harmed.


 


Gov. Rod Blagojevich signed Senate Bill 234 into law Tuesday. The governor’s office said the measure will take effect June 1, 2008.


 


“I’m just thrilled to death the governor signed this,” said Rep. David Leitch, a Peoria Republican who sponsored the bill as it advanced through the House. “It can mean an important step forward in empowering families to help” loved ones who have mental illness.


 


The legislation easily won approval from the General Assembly earlier this year, with a 108-6 vote in the House and a 54-0 vote in the Senate. The bill’s supporters included the National Alliance on Mental Illness Illinois.


 


Existing law says that a person must present a threat to himself or to others before a family member or a friend can step in and have the loved one admitted for treatment involuntarily, Leitch said.


 


But the new law will let families obtain help for “loved ones who are decompensating ... before they hit rock bottom,” he said.