Thursday, December 20, 2007

Reading is fundamental

Opponents of AOT will often rely on hyperbole to argue against providing necessary assisted care for individuals with a severe mental illness. You’ll commonly hear that programs like Kendra’s Law will run roughshod over all consumers, or that it’s “social control” targeting those who may just act differently.

Of course, we know the reality is quite different. AOT programs like Kendra’s Law focus care toward the most mentally severely ill, reducing the crushing consequences of nontreatment – arrests, incarcerations, homelessness, and victimization. Unfortunately, most opponents of AOT simply haven’t even bothered to read the eligibility criteria associated with an AOT program, preferring to rely instead on overheated rhetoric.

So today, we’re providing you with an example of what eligibility criteria for an AOT program typically look like. The below example comes from New York, but could just have easily have been taken from any number of states around the country: In order to be eligible for New York’s AOT program, a court must find, by clear and convincing evidence and after a full hearing, that all of the following have been met.

The individual must:

1. be eighteen years of age or older; AND

2. suffer from a mental illness; AND

3. be unlikely to survive safely in the community without supervision, based on a clinical determination; AND

4. have a history of non-adherence with treatment that has:
a. been a significant factor in his or her being in a hospital, prison or jail at least twice within the last 36 months; or
b. resulted in one or more acts, attempts or threats of serious violent behavior toward self or others within the last 48 months; AND

5. be unlikely to voluntarily participate in treatment; AND

6. be, in view of his or her treatment history and current behavior, in need of AOT in order to prevent a relapse or deterioration which would be likely to result in:
a. a substantial risk of physical harm to the individual as manifested by threats of or attempts at suicide or serious bodily harm or conduct demonstrating that the
individual is dangerous to himself or herself; or
b. a substantial risk of physical harm to other persons as manifested by homicidal or other violent behavior by which others are placed in reasonable fear of serious physical harm; AND

7. be likely to benefit from AOT; AND

8. if the consumer has a health care proxy, any directions in it will be taken into account by the court in determining the written treatment plan. However, nothing precludes a person with a health care proxy from being eligible for AOT.

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