A law that forces mental health treatment | February 14, 2014 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Cover Story - February 14, 2014

A law that forces mental health treatment

'Laura's Law' sparks debates over patient liberties and court-mandated care

by Sue Dremann

To commit, or not commit? That is the question for many families and advocates in the mental health system.

This story contains 1019 words.

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Posted by Joan, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 14, 2014 at 6:36 pm

Laura's law is absolutely necessary and helpful for people with mental illness. It is true that people, who suffer from mental illness, may not know they are mentally ill. The part of the brain that should tell them they are sick isn't working.

I work in the mental health field. I receive calls from family members weekly, desperate for help for their loved one, who lacks insight into his/her illness. Some families have resorted to creating false scenarios, to make it look like their loved one is a danger to themselves or others, so he/she can receive treatment. One little girl's father didn't believe he was sick and refused treatment. He ended homeless and then killed on the street.

Mental illness is a brain disorder. People with brain disorders have right to be protected from harm when they are vulnerable. With treatment they can gain insight into their illness and have the opportunity to recover.

Posted by Abuse, a resident of Stanford
on Feb 15, 2014 at 5:57 pm

The reason families cannot commit their relatives to mental hospitals is because the practice was so badly abused up until the early nineties. It now requires a judge to even get a 72-hr hold, because family members would " get rid of" a troublesome relative by convincing a doctor to commit them to a psyche ward.

Even after the laws changed, family members and shady doctors could work around the system by moving a patient from hospital to hospital every three days. This was done up until VERY recently.

Psychiatric commitment to a hospital should require a minimum of two psychiatrists and the court. The potential for abuse is great, and the possibility of getting out once committed, necessary or not, is next to impossible ( at least until the money is exhausted).

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