Former APA President Paul Appelbaum, M.D., chair of APA's Committee on Judicial Action and director of the Division of Law, Ethics, and Psychiatry at Columbia University, raised the issue of unintended consequences arising from the mental illness provision, telling Psychiatric News that "even if there is no reason to believe that the person has a weapon, it represents a major change in the rules of confidentiality that have always governed mental health treatment." He added that the prospect of having their name reported to police officials "may be enough to discourage patients with suicidal or homicidal ideation from seeking treatment or from talking about their disturbing thoughts. It may discourage the very people we most want to have in treatment from seeking help." Appelbaum emphasized that, "At the very least, it would seem prudent to hold hearing on the possible consequences of this sweeping legislation rather than adopting it in haste."
To read Psychiatric News coverage of the mental health aftermath of the shootings in Newtown, click here and here.