Tuesday, February 11, 2014

TAC Report Gives Poor Grade to States on Laws Requiring Treatment

The majority of U.S. states are in need of significant improvements to their mental illness treatment laws to protect and provide for individuals in psychiatric crisis, according to a new report by the Treatment Advocacy Center (TAC).

TAC advocates for civil commitment laws and court-ordered outpatient treatment, often called “assisted outpatient treatment.”

The TAC report, “Mental Health Commitment Laws: A Survey of the States,” analyzes the quality and use of laws each state has enacted to meet the needs of people with severe mental illness who cannot recognize their own need for treatment. The report grades each state on the quality of the civil commitment laws that determine who receives court-ordered treatment for mental illness, under what conditions, and for how long. States also received grades on their use of treatment laws based on a survey of mental health officials.

No state earned a grade of “A” on the use of its civil commitment laws. Seventeen states earned a cumulative grade of “D” or “F” for the quality of their laws, and only 14 states earned a grade of “B” or better for the quality of their civil commitment laws. Twenty-seven states provide court-ordered hospital treatment only to people at risk of violence or suicide even though most of these states have laws that allow treatment under additional circumstances.

“The cost of not treating severe mental illness--to the individuals suffering from it, their families, communities and taxpayers-- is incalculable,” said Doris A. Fuller, executive director of the TAC, in a statement. “The failure of most states to enact and or use common-sense laws that would reduce these impacts should be recognized as the national disgrace it is.”

For more on court-ordered treatment, see the Psychiatric News article, "Treatment Law Evaluation Shows That investment Pays Off."

(Image: Shutterstock/Monika Wisniewska)


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