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New Book Looks At Involuntary Psychiatric Care

Photo credit: Courtesy Photo

The cover of "Committed: The Battle Over Involuntary Psychiatric Care."

Some say California needs to move more aggressively towards allowing involuntary psychiatric treatment to decrease the number of people with mental illness in the state's jails.

The authors of "Committed: The Battle Over Involuntary Psychiatric Care," Dinah Miller and Annette Hanson, show both sides of the argument over involuntary treatment in the book but conclude that involuntary commitment is not the best solution.

Hanson said that although a small number of studies suggest that involuntary treatment decreases hospitalization and increases compliance with care, there is no indication that it decreases the violent crime rate. But she said people with serious mental illness commit fewer than 4 percent of all violent crimes and are more likely to be the victim of a crime than the perpetrator.

In the book, the authors tell the stories of people who have had both bad and good experiences with involuntary treatment. But, Hanson said, that it is hard to find people who feel grateful for involuntary care.

"I think we certainly intellectually understand that involuntary care is traumatizing, but I think until you actually hear what the patients have to tell us that you really get a better appreciation of it," Hanson said.

Hanson said alternatives to involuntary treatment include assertive community treatment programs, which involve treatment providers going out into the community to engage with people with serious mental illness and building relationships with them in an effort to get them to get into treatment.

"You have to take the time to engage someone in treatment and to build a relationship before you can get them into care," she said.

Book Looks At Involuntary Psychiatric Care


Annette Hanson, co-author, "Committed: The Battle Over Involuntary Psychiatric Care"

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