Pennsylvania Proposed Outpatient Commitment Law

Oh, no. I had to deal with legislator’s pushing for forced treatment laws under the pretext of mental health reform when I was in Virginia. Now it’s happening in Pennsylvania.

An article in the Pocono Record, Mental health reform called for, has much to say on the subject.

Pennsylvania should make it easier to force severe mentally ill residents who refuse help into outpatient treatment, two panelists said during a forum Wednesday sponsored by the Monroe County League of Women Voters.

Severity is relative, and requires a judgment call, and the specialists making this judgment call, make mistakes.

Define ‘help’. When you are letting somebody else, besides the person directly involved, determine what is in his or her best interests, he or she is likely to disagree with what those interests are seen as being. That person may not see the ‘help’ being offered as actual help; that person may see it as harm or hendrance.

Current law, enacted in 1976, allows someone with a suspected severe mental illness to be ordered into a treatment evaluation only if that person is determined to be “a clear and present danger” to himself or others.

A proposed assisted outpatient treatment law — Senate bill 251 — would enable a judge to order someone into outpatient treatment for up to six months, followed by an evaluation and possible additional treatment for another year. A program coordinator would be charge with monitoring the treatment for compliance with the court order.

A 1 and ½ year sentence of treatment…for what crime? I take it we’re trying to get around the current laws demand for a clear and present danger to oneself or others.

This treatment almost invariably involves the use of powerful psychiatric drugs. These psychiatric drugs have devastating effects on an individual’s health, and can actually foreshorten a person’s life by many years.

“Neglect and abuse doesn’t play as big a role as once thought,” Freimer said. “Think about the fact these are real illnesses.”

They are? Show me a mental illness on a microscope slide then. I know that they exist in people’s heads, I don’t get the idea that they therefore necessarily exist in reality–physical reality.

If our politicians have gone crazy for this sort of anti-American legislation then maybe we are forcibly treating the wrong people.

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