Feeling the need to regulate the advertisements on the internet regarding mental health rehabs, Illinois recently suggested certain amendments to the House Bill (HB) 4949 – Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act – to the Mental Health Committee for review. After a short debate on Apr 20, 2018, the committee recommended these to be adopted. As per the proposed changes, it would be illegal for an individual to publish any misleading or false adverts. Further, no individual can indulge in any sort of promotion that misrepresents the need to look for help for mental health issues or treatment for substance use disorder outside the state of Illinois.
The Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act regulates advertising, marketing, sales materials, promotional materials related to mental health issues and substance use disorder. It is meant to safeguard consumers, and keep a tab on the businesses to prevent any deceptive ways of conducting business. The amendments to the bill were envisaged to safeguard the consumers and patients in the following ways:
- There should be complete clarity in the adverts, which would prominently mention or announce the full physical address of the treatment facility or any such program.
- The advertisements concerned should provide a link to the internet website for the Department of Human Services’ Division of Mental Health and Division of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse.
- The advertisements should also provide information about the availability of mental health disorder treatment and substance use disorder treatment at a reduced cost or free to residents of the state of Illinois.
The amended law prohibits anyone from charging a patient seeking mental health treatment or substance abuse treatment. Moreover, no individual can take anything in return or claim a monetary gain for referring a patient to such programs or treatment facilities.
An amendment to the Health Care Worker Self-Referral Act was also proposed. The suggestion read that violating any provision of this law would be rendered illegal and considered an unlawful practice under the Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act.
These amendments were proposed to the Medical Practice Act of 1987, which states that any kind of tampering with the provisions would be considered illegal. It prohibits fee splitting, which is considered an illegal practice under the Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act.
Dealing with mental disorders and substance abuse
It is easy to mislead those seeking behavioral health and substance use disorder treatment as it is common for such patients to go with advertisements that promise to deliver relief. However, in order to ensure that such patients get the treatment they deserve, it is imperative that such dubious practices of misleading patients of mental problems and substance use disorders are restrained. Making stringent laws that punish such fraudsters would ensure safety of patients, and help reduce the associated stigma. One should not shy away from accepting the problems and reaching out to the related help centers, as this can delay the treatment and worsen the problem. It is important to understand that timely intervention can go a long way in controlling the problems.
It is never easy living with either a mental disorder. Yet, with treatment, one can manage the symptoms considerably. If you have a loved one grappling with a mental health disorder, the 24/7 Mental Health Helpline can help. Call our 24/7 Mental Health Helpline number (855)-653-8178 or chat online with our mental health experts for immediate assistance about a suitable mental health rehab center near you.