Mental Health Advocates Oppose Bill To Ease Forced Treatment


Most people with mental illness are no more violent than anyone else, but a small subset of that population, individuals who can no longer tell the difference between what’s real and what’s not, can be prone to violent acts, says NPR. An uneasy fact has emerged from the two dozen mass shootings in the U.S. in the past decade: The majority of the people pulling the trigger have been severely mentally ill and not receiving treatment. U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA), wants to lower the standard by which seriously mentally ill people may be forced into treatment. He’s been met with fierce opposition.

Some mental health groups fear people’s civil liberties will be violated. Others say it will be a return to state-run insane asylums. Murphy, a practicing psychologist, is frustrated. “I’ve got the pictures on my table over there of kids who died at Sandy Hook and I promised those parents I was going to do something.” Severely mentally ill people in most states can be confined to treatment, usually about five days, only if they are an imminent danger to themselves or others. Some states also have a lower standard — something called a “need for treatment.” That means a person can be court-ordered to get counseling and stay on medication. Murphy’s bill provides financial incentives for all states to adopt this lower standard.

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