Top Policymakers Support AOT for New Mexico
New Mexico is one of only 8 states without an assisted outpatient treatment (AOT) law. That means someone who is too ill to make an informed treatment decision must be left untreated until they are in a crisis, posing a “likelihood of serious harm to themselves or others.”
Who supports bringing AOT to New Mexico? Republicans and Democrats alike have rallied behind the effort to update New Mexico's mental illness treatment laws.
- Rep. Joni Gutierrez (D-Las Cruces), who introduced the bill in the House, said that "existing New Mexico law essentially forces people who lack insight into their illness to hit rock bottom before they can be helped ... Forced deterioration is cruel and inhumane."
- U.S. Senator Pete Domenici has strongly endorsed the legislation, pointing out "Some argue that it is wrong to force individuals to undergo treatment against their will. We argue that the tragic consequences are simply too monumental not to require help under certain circumstances. The success rate of the AOT program in other states has been well documented in both research and in practice.”
- Governor Bill Richardson held a news conference to endorse the measure, saying "We need this law to prevent events like the tragic murders in Albuquerque last summer. We have to do everything we can to prevent this from happening to another family, another police officer, or another community, ever again.” [Read more about the news conference.]
- Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chávez is a strong supporter, noting that 20 percent of the 55 homicides in Albuquerque in 2005 were related to mental illness.
- The bill is supported by the state and local chapters of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI).
GET THE FACTS
What is assisted outpatient treatment?
Why does New Mexico need AOT?
How is it working in other states that are using it?
Why do some people refuse treatment for severe mental illnesses?
Among other things, assisted outpatient treatment:
- Reduces homelessness, psychiatric hospitalizations, arrests, incarceration, and harmful behavior, and improves treatment compliance
- Reduces caregiver strain
- Is retroactively endorsed by participants
Some individuals and organizations have raised concerns about assisted outpatient treatment. Most of these fears are based on misinformation or misunderstanding. Educate yourself about the myths surrounding assisted outpatient treatment.