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Bill protecting mental health patients now before Pennsylvania Senate

July 13, 2017 | By Brent Addleman

With the Pennsylvania Senate back in session, state Rep. Aaron Bernstine is hopeful House Bill 835 passes a review of the Health and Human Services Committee and comes up for vote.

Bernstine’s legislation, which was unanimously approved June 27 by the House of Representatives, would ensure Pennsylvanians receiving mental health care have legal protection from those seeking to do them harm.

“We had it passed out of the House,” Bernstine said. “Moving forward … the Health and Human Services committee will hopefully take that bill up and it would move before the Senate.”

Bernstine said the bill is “common sense legislation” and is bi-partisan.

“As we work through the legislative process we are going to continue to work together,” Bernstine said. “There is not a person out there who doesn’t know someone or is related to someone with mental health issues. We are glad to tackle this issue head-on.

“Mental health issues can impact anyone, at any time, and without this safeguard on our books, we would be failing to protect a lot of our citizens from potential abuse and neglect. That’s unacceptable.”

According to Bernstine, the bill would update the Mental Health Procedures Act in order for people in treatment for mental health issues have a right to be free from abuse, neglect and exploitation. As of now, mental health patients are not specifically protected under statute.

Bernstine said the issue was brought to his attention by advocacy groups in Beaver, Butler and Lawrence counties.

“I am excited anytime we can get – in a world that is so partisan – it is always a good thing when you can get everyone on the same page looking out for the people of Pennsylvania,” Bernstine said.

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