Family Involvement Law

NAMI Minnesota successfully advocated for a change in the Data Practices law that allows limited but important information to be released to families. The bill was called the “family involvement law.” The law created an alternative to signing a full privacy release. The new law allows caretakers to access mental health care information that will help them to care and advocate for a person with a mental illness. This law was passed in 2006, Chapter 253. This section of the law was rewritten in 2007 and can now be found in Minnesota Statutes, section 144.294 subdivision 3 (Chapter 147).

Mental health professionals are encouraged to suggest this alternative to individuals who are reluctant to sign a privacy release.

Who Can Request Health Information about a Person with a Mental Illness?

Any person, whom we will call a caregiver, can request mental health information about a person with a mental illness IF he or she:

  • lives with the person with a mental illness, or
  • cares for or helps obtain care for the person with a mental illness, or
  • is directly involved with monitoring the well-being of the person with a mental illness.

It is important to note that the caregiver’s involvement must be verified by someone such as a mental health or health care provider, the individual’s doctor, or anyone other than the caregiver putting in the request.

For comprehensive information related to the Family Involvement Law, please follow this link to the NAMI website and the related pamphlet: Understanding Data Practices Laws (April 2014) – Learn about the state and federal health care privacy laws and what they do and do not require. (Also see HIPAA – Questions and Answers for Family Caregivers by Next Step in Care, here.)