Mental health related issues have been gaining a lot of media and political attention in the wake of such tragedies as the one that just happened near UC Santa Barbara. We as a society often find ourselves looking for answers as to why such things could have happened, particularly to such innocent people. These conversations have been refocusing our attention on how to get those experiencing a mental illness or disorder the appropriate mental health services, even though only a fraction of those experiencing some form of psychosis pose a threat to others (compared to those performing acts of violence and not suffering from a mental illness). But really the question boils down to ‘who needs therapy?’ and can we actually force some people to engage in services? This NPR article does a fairly decent job of introducing the idea of involuntary mental health treatment and the complicated issues such a notion entails.
“You do have to be conscious that even though these people are mentally ill, they do have rights,” says Steve Pitman, board president of the Orange County chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.