On August 4, 2015, Senator Bill Cassidy, M. D. (R-LA), on behalf of himself and Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT), announced the Mental Health Reform Act of 2015 (S. 1945). The Cassidy bill has now been referred to the Senate, read twice and referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. According to the Library of Congress, S. 1945’s purpose is “to make available needed psychiatric, psychological, and supportive services for individuals with mental illness and families in mental health crisis, and for other purposes.”
Only five states remain in which Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) laws have not yet gone into effect -- Massachusetts, Maryland, New Mexico, Connecticut and Tennessee -- and the pressure to start these programs in CO and NM is now very heavy. This article will address the push towards forced treatment for vulnerable populations who are at a high risk of being re-traumatized by these laws. It will also attempt to put a human face on the issues of stigma, labeling and the downward spiral that distressed individuals can get locked into when positive rather than punitive pathways are not made available to them.
Representative Murphy has released the second version of the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act (H.R. 2646). Few can argue that the mental health system and the current approach towards helping individuals and families in crisis are abysmal. H.R. 2646 is an effort to create increased service provisions and to enhance interventions that many professionals, family members and service users alike believe to be effective. When people are desperate and suffering they do not wish to be told "Sorry, there's nothing we can do." And so, it is understandable and even laudable that so many support the proposals laid out in H.R. 2646. But the bill is based on distorted and faulty logic that misrepresents the research and evidence base. This is highly disconcerting. And so a collective of mental health professionals, mental health advocates, and persons with lived experience came together to produce the following documents in response to H.R. 2646.
“And so what we should be thinking about is our responsibility to care for and shield them from harm and give them the...
New York State’s out-patient commitment program, termed Assisted Out-Patient Treatment (AOT), was instituted in 1999 to protect the general public from treatment non-compliant and...
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