Should Psychiatric Treatment Be Mandated for Outpatients Who Are Severely Mentally Ill?

Article excerpt


The National Mental Health Association is against the use and expansion of involuntary outpatient treatment. Mandating psychiatric care for people with serious mental illness is an overly simplistic solution to an extremely complex problem.

A true answer requires consideration of individual rights, effective treatment, and appropriate investment in proven community-based services. Consumers, families, providers, and policy makers must work together to find solutions that respect the rights of individuals and provide access to the supports and services people with mental illnesses need.

Most people with a mental illness want treatment and are capable of participating in decisions about their care. People with mental illnesses should have the right to make decisions about their treatment plans and to determine which services to accept. Involuntary outpatient commitment is inherently suspect and incompatible with the very principles of self-determination on which our public mental health systems are built.

Some might argue that involuntary outpatient commitment forces the mental health system to be responsible for persons with psychiatric disabilities. It is an abridgement of civil rights to attempt to use a tool such as involuntary commitment to effect change in the mental health system. …


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