Monday, January 07, 2008

Can California's treatment law help Britney Spears?

This weekend news outlets across the world reported that pop star Britney Spears had been taken by medical responders to the hospital for a “mental evaluation.” She was released within 48 hours.

While the media focused on the sensational story, they missed a powerful opportunity to discuss what it means to be taken to the hospital on an involuntary basis for a psychiatric evaluation, what the procedure really entails, how the California treatment law (known as the LPS) is a last resort for helping people, and how the law prevents family members and concerned friends from intervening for an individual who might have clear symptoms of a mental illness until they are in serious danger to themselves or others, or gravely disabled.

The Treatment Advocacy Center tries to educate the media, public, and policymakers about effective mental health treatment laws. To learn more about the California law, check out our online summary. To learn more about mental health treatment laws in other states visit our legal resources section on our website.

While we do not yet know whether Britney Spears has a severe mental illness, we do know that the California law makes it very difficult to intervene and get treatment for an individual with severe mental illness- no matter how obvious the need is to the rest of the world.