Governor signs Joel’s Law to give families access to emergency mental health treatment

OLYMPIA – Today Governor Jay Inslee signed Joel’s Law, the mental health care reform bill that will allow families to get emergency mental health treatment for their family members in crisis.

Rep. Brady Walkinshaw (D – Seattle) is the House sponsor of Joel’s Law, which is named after Joel Reuter, a young man from Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood who was tragically shot in his apartment after an armed standoff with police. Joel struggled with mental illness.

“We took a big step forward in improving the mental health care system in our state,” Walkinshaw said. “This gives families a voice when it comes to ensuring their loved ones are given the care they need when suffering from a mental health crisis.”

Joel’s parents tried 48 times to get their son the help he needed from Washington’s underfunded mental health system. This session his parents were the biggest advocates of the law named after their late son.

Joel’s Law will allow immediate family members to petition the court for urgent intervention for their loved ones to access mental health evaluation and treatment.

“It places the power to seek mental health treatment in the hands of those best equipped to help someone who’s suffering — their family,” Walkinshaw said.

“I want to give my heartfelt appreciation to the Reuter family for their fierce dedication in passing this law in memory of their son, Joel,” said Rep. Laurie Jinkins (D – Tacoma), a secondary sponsor on the House bill. “This is an important step forward in providing quality care and a quality of life to Washingtonians suffering from mental illness.”