Senate passes mental health bill

The Senate backed legislation Monday to allow licensed professional counselors to involuntarily commit to an institution for 72 hours patients who appear to be mentally ill and a danger.

Sen. Renee Unterman, R-Buford, said Senate Bill 65 particularly lets rural communities help patients with mental health issues without delaying or hindering critical care. “In South Georgia, there are not enough professional and not enough community-based services,” said Unterman, the bill’s sponsor. “We have more people out there in need who are not getting services.”

Georgia doctors, psychologists, clinical social workers and other medical professionals already have the ability to involuntarily commit for examination patients who they deem to be at risk of hurting themselves or another person.

Georgia has roughly 4,800 licensed professional counselors. SB 65, which passed on a 51-2 vote, now goes to the House for consideration.