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Several bills targeted better mental health treatment in 2018 session

SALT LAKE CITY — Lawmakers zeroed in on several bills in the 2018 legislative session that were designed to promote better mental health treatment in Utah, though not all of them made it to the finish line.

HB41 dedicates nearly $2.4 million in ongoing funding toward mental health crisis lines in Utah, and also requires that all 20 such phones lines in Utah either be available 24/7 for 365 days a year or otherwise have the ability to automatically transfer to another crisis center at all times. HB41 passed the House and Senate without any dissenting votes.

HB370 provides for state grant funds toward five new mobile crisis outreach teams — or what the bill's supporters call the psychiatric version of ambulances — to assist those who make mental health calls.

HB370 additionally enables the School Safety and Crisis Line program, which administers the SafeUT crisis intervention app, to increase its role among higher education institutions. It passed the House and Senate unanimously.

HB139 would have the Medicaid program and private insurers provide reimbursement for consultations between a patient's primary care doctor and a psychiatrist, with the goal of providing more contact points for patients to access mental health services.

Despite initial resistance from insurers, HB139 ended up passing easily.

SCR11, which urges health care providers and state health officials to "expand provider training, education and support, and a standard of care across practices in perinatal settings" for women suffering from postpartum depression, passed with no dissenting votes.

HB87, which would instruct doctors in Utah to complete two hours of suicide prevention training every two years as part of their license renewal process, failed in the House, 27-42.

Multiple groups representing medical providers argued to lawmakers that doctors already have good training in suicide prevention that requiring too many trainings of doctors could set a precedent in which they consistently have to be educating themselves in several specialties beyond their own.