In the US, ‘Mental Health Treatment’ Can Be a Death Sentence

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From The Nation: “Amid ongoing emergencies . . . the United States has slipped quietly toward an assault on civil liberties as an answer to plummeting mental health. From coast to coast, state lawmakers of both parties are reaching for coercive treatment and involuntary commitment to address spiraling substance use and overdose crises—an approach that will only escalate despair and multiply otherwise preventable deaths while helping to choke the life out of America.

. . . Across the country, the involuntary detainment and institutional commitment of people with ‘mental illness’—including those with a substance use disorder—is on the rise. Deploying the language of ‘helping’ those in need, policymakers are reaching not for a band-aid but a club, with scant or even contradictory evidence that such an approach will benefit those who are in pain.

‘The process can involve being strip-searched, restrained, secluded, having drugs forced on you, losing your credibility,’ said UCLA professor of social welfare David Cohen in a 2020 statement about his research on involuntary commitment. He co-authored a study that found its use rose nationwide in the decade before the pandemic hit, even as there was a striking lack of transparency regarding when or how such coercion was used.”

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