In the last post I wrote about an honest mental health system.
If you believe the idea of do no harm is a good place to start then a core function of an honest system is to protect the people using that system from any harm or risk they face as a result of their participation in that system.
Normally a large question is to what extent are a person’s rights respected and protected. Do they have the information needed to make a informed consent to any proposed services? Can they say no? Are they treated honestly? Are they treated with respect? Are assessment results shared as well as the likely risks and benefits of any proposed treatment? Are complaints taken seriously and promptly addressed? Is their right to make decisions protected and respected? These are only a few of the questions that might be considered under the area of protecting and respecting the rights of people being served and insuring no harm is done to them.
The people who argue against the increased reliance on forced treatment inherent in the Murphy Bill argue, at least in part, based on the idea it tramples on the rights of those it serves. Those in favor of increased commitment argue that is not so, that safeguards are in place, and that the right to needed treatment even if you don’t realize that you need it is most fundamental and trumps everything else. There is no shortage of anecdotes on either side proving their case.
Family members claim it is solely about giving sick people, people who because of their illness don’t realize they need it, access to medical treatment. Consumers (Feel free to substitute whatever politically appropriate term you please. In Tennessee consumer is used most often) argue. They point to a history of family conflict and even victimization. They dispute the family’s claim of good will and see the effort to seek forced treatment as a further attempt to dominate and control.
Those arguing for Aot claim protection is in place and attempts by the family to control and dominant a member who is more than capable of making his own decisions is unlikely to happen. After all it is a judicial procedure driven by the facts…. Or so the claim.
If this was so you might expect the data would show inappropriate attempts at committee would be identified and stopped by the court… rights would be protected.
New York keeps the best statistics. Since AOT started in 1999 something like 98% of petitions have been granted. Hardly what I would expect. Basically everything who tries to commit someone is always successful. The verdict is in just because the charges are made.
Forced treatment assumes the honesty of those seeking to use it. It assumes the need for protection from inappropriate action is more illusion than real. The experience and testimony of thousands and thousands is that just isn’t so.