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Ohio Senate bill would increase psychiatric hospital bed availability, improve access to mental health services

Senate Bill 2 introduced by state Sen. Theresa Gavarone has two main components focusing on improving mental health care accessibility in Ohio.

BOWLING GREEN, Ohio — Experts say there's a critical shortage of psychiatric hospital beds in Ohio. A bill introduced in the state senate hopes to make more beds available for those who need them, as well as improve access to mental health services.

Senate Bill 2 introduced by state Sen. Theresa Gavarone, R-Bowling Green, has two main components.

The first component enters the state into the Psychology Interjurisdictional Compact (PSYPACT) which is an agreement that allows psychologists to practice temporary, in-person psychology and tele-psychology across participating states.

PSYPACT has been enacted by 15 states including:

  • Arizona – Enacted on 5/17/2016
  • Colorado - Enacted 4/12/2018
  • Delaware - Enacted 6/27/2019
  • Georgia -  Enacted 4/23/2019
  • Illinois - Enacted 8/22/2018
  • Missouri - Enacted 6/1/2018
  • Nebraska - Enacted 4/23/2018
  • Nevada -  Enacted on 5/26/2017
  • New Hampshire- Enacted 7/10/2019
  • Oklahoma - Enacted 4/29/2019
  • Pennsylvania - Enacted 5/8/2020
  • Texas - Enacted 6/10/2019
  • Utah - Enacted on 3/17/2017
  • Virginia - Enacted 4/11/2020
  • North Carolina - Effective 3/1/2021 

Underserved or geographically isolated populations can also get access to care through PSYPACT. 

"If you build a relationship with a psychologist, sometimes it can take a while to find someone you have a really good relationship with if you, say, go to college or move somewhere else, you can keep that continuity of care across state lines," Gavarone said. 

The second part of the bill would allow nonviolent, misdemeanor offenders to get competency evaluations in outpatient settings, freeing up state psychiatric hospital beds for Ohioans suffering from serious mental illness.

"If someone needs that state psychiatric hospital bed, we certainly want to make sure they've got that, but not everybody needs 60 days in a state hospital. Sometimes they can be there for a week or two and then maybe go to a step down service."

The bill would also help people get connected to treatment. 

It's currently in the House Criminal Justice committee.

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