Commitment Issues

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Forced psychiatric treatment has been the "most consistently debatedissue in mental health law for the last 30 years," say the authors of a recent report on involuntary commitment, conducted by Rand Corp., a nonprofit group in California. They discovered that the debate is far from over.

Currently, 38 states have involuntary outpatient treatment laws, meaning that a court can order a mentally ill person into psychiatric care. Recent clinical studies of the effects have had varying results:

One could find no differences between the people ordered into treatment and those who chose it voluntarily, but another indicated that with proper follow-up care, court-ordered treatment could be beneficial to people who would not otherwise seek help.

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