Thursday, August 17, 2006

Don't trust the experts

This story about an Oregon mother’s struggle to get help for her mentally son who has a history of psychiatric hospitalizations and threatening behavior is hardly unique. But it is particularly illustrative of the need for better education about what state civil commitment laws allow in states that have good ones.

The article claims that “[t]he problem, most experts agree, is that there are few options between commitment and letting people loose with no safety net whatsoever.”

The “experts” were wrong.

In Oregon, assisted outpatient treatment is an option that possibly could be used for this mother’s son if he has had, for example two hospitalizations in the previous three years, symptoms/behavior substantially similar to those that led to the previous hospitalizations, and will continue to physically or mentally deteriorate.

The take-home lesson?

Don't trust the experts. Learn what your state’s civil commitment law allows. If it is good like Oregon’s – use it. If not, change it.

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