Carson City, Nevada - The Treatment Advocacy Center has analyzed the laws that provide evaluation and treatment to psychiatric patients across the nation based on a scoring rubric. Nevada scored a "B" in reviewing the content of how services are provided, the treatment time frame, and if it leads to successful outcomes within each state. Nevada was one of 22 states that scored a B- or higher. Nevada's Assisted Outpatient Program provides involuntary civil outpatient services for those in our community who have behavioral health issues and require intensive level of wrap-around mental health services.

Individualized services provided may include medication management, individual and/or group counseling, intensive case management, transportation, residential support, and linkage to community substance abuse programs. Family members or the state may petition for an individual to be accepted into the court ordered program after repeated inpatient hospitalizations or frequent law enforcement encounters. The intent is to stabilize individuals through community-based treatment and supports.

Nevada has inpatient civil commitment laws outlined in NRS 433A, and in 2013, Nevada was the 45th state to institute Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) laws. Most recently, in 2017, Nevada adopted Assembly Bill 440 allowing criminal defendants to enter the AOT program by one of two methods; as a diversion program or as a condition of their probation.  An accepted petition is valid for six months, and individuals may be re-petitioned to support their journey of stabilization. The civil court judge is part of the interdisciplinary team to help reinforce the progress of the individual. The Treatment Advocacy Center positively noted that Nevada is one of only two states that expressly uses a court monitoring of voluntary settlement agreements.  

Civil commitment laws are intended to provide safe and secure mental health treatment to individuals who are both presenting a danger to themselves or others in addition to those who are repeatedly noncompliant and cycling through both the mental health and criminal justice systems. Despite intentions for treatment and long-term stabilization, programs like AOT are not without criticism. Many argue that such programs “have no teeth” and are unable to make the desired impact. However, despite these challenges, the state program in Clark County can serve 100 clients and 75 clients in Washoe County, allowing many to break the cycle of recidivism. Nevada was one of five states to score a ‘B’ noting highest scores in areas such as access to emergency evaluation, quality of emergency petition, emergency hold duration, availability of treatment plan and consequences of non-adherence. 

Nevada still has areas to improve in terms of civil commitment laws. With rapid population growth of increasingly complex individuals, Nevada’s mental health providers will continue to expand in order to meet the needs of its community and continue to provide select supportive services. 

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