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Virginia Must Prize Mental Illness Treatment Over Psychosis
Date:1/25/2008

or others should get mental illness treatment. But Virginia needs to do better. Virginia needs a law like Kendra's Law, and must also allow outpatient intervention before someone is in crisis.

The only bill now in the Senate that meets these criteria is SB 177.

VIRGINIA MUST TREAT BEFORE TRAGEDY

Most states allow court ordered treatment for reasons like substantially deteriorating condition, incapability of making rational treatment decisions, or likelihood of becoming dangerous without treatment.

The most common proposed change to Virginia's law, however, has been a minor modification from the Chief Justice's Commission on Mental Health Law Reform. Instead of the current law's requirement that someone be an "imminent" physical danger, the commission's weak recommendation would trigger intervention if there is substantial likelihood someone will "cause serious physical harm to himself or others" in the near future.

That standard would still be among the worst in the nation.

Virginia should instead adopt a more progressive standard, such as the one developed by the Commission's Task Force on Commitment. That standard allows someone to be placed under a treatment order if he or she is "unable to comprehend the nature of his illness," is "substantially affected by his illness" and will, absent treatment, "continue to suffer a substantial deterioration in his previous ability to function in the community."

VIRGINIA MUST ADOPT KENDRA'S LAW

Kendra's Law is court-ordered community treatment - a less restrictive, remarkably effective, and far less costly alternative to hospitalization. Current Virginia law requires someone to meet the inpatient hospitalization standard before they can be court-ordered to outpatient treatment. This makes the current law largely unusable because community treatment is not for those who are imminently dangerous.

A better choice is a law like New York's Kendra's La
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SOURCE Treatment Advocacy Center
Copyright©2008 PR Newswire.
All rights reserved

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