Involuntary Commitment Can ‘Destroy the Human Spirit,’ Social Worker States


From Pete Earley: “Dear Pete,

As I read your blog piece on Assisted Outpatient Treatment, I asked myself, what are we committing people living with serious mental illness to?

And why wouldn’t we start with practices that promote engagement, and offer people help that they find meaningful?

I am a clinical social worker who worked in a specialty clinic for people with psychotic disorders for 17 years. I’ve been involved with clinical training and education of mental health professionals for 24 years, in academic psychiatry and social work . . .

The last person I worked with who was given an outpatient commitment after a hospital stay rented a car and drove across the country. We would be foolish to think that we can control people in this way. I don’t understand why we don’t offer treatment and services that people actually want. Last year, I spent a day training at one of our state hospitals in North Carolina. The staff appreciated my talks, but told me that the evidence-based practices that I described simply weren’t available in their patients’ home communities. Why don’t we require state authorities and county governments to actually serve their vulnerable citizens? And why don’t we start with treatment and services that we know work, and that people actually want?”

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  1. The author of this article impressed me by getting this published on Pete Earleys blog. That is surprising. In this article she question AOT and the odious Family to Family curriculum by NAMI (FtoF states clearly on the cover that it is funded by a drug company) I dont agree with her support of the clubhouse model–i think clubhouses have been co-opted by medical model practitioners with the result that they ate not friendly to people who want to organize, protest, revolutionalize, innovate, or make waves.

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  2. “why don’t we start with treatment and services that we know work, and that people actually want?” What a concept, in a supposedly free market economy.

    The truth is that psychiatry has to use force, coercion, and lies because people do NOT want your drugs, your stigmatizations, or the lack of listening services you provide. In a real free market economy, psychiatry would not exist.

    I agree with the author’s concluding statement, “The overemphasis on coercive care is dehumanizing … I fear that we are heading back to the dark ages in our mental health system. It frankly breaks my heart.”

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