California Incident Renews Debate Over Civil Commitment Standards

USA Today (5/28, Szabo) reports that last Friday’s shooting and stabbing incident in Santa Barbara, CA, by Elliot Rodger “has renewed the debate over how and whether to require people with serious mental illness to get psychiatric care.” According to USA Today, “Many families and advocates for people with serious mental illness say the country needs to change its standard for civil commitment, which allows people to be hospitalized against their will.”

In Congress, “Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Pa., a child psychologist, has introduced legislation that would push states to change these criteria, permitting involuntary hospitalization based on a patient’s ‘need for treatment,’ a standard now used by only 18 states.” Others argue that changes in involuntary commitment laws may violate people’s rights and may not be adequate to get patients the care they need.

The Roll Call (5/28, Dennis, Dumain, Subscription Publication) “218” blog quotes Rep. Murphy, who said in a statement this past weekend following the Santa Barbara incident, “Our mental health system has failed and more families have been destroyed because Washington hasn’t had the courage to fix it.”

The congressman “plans a Thursday briefing on his committee’s report on mental health, written over the course of a year following the tragedy in Newtown.” He also “says his bill would also expand access to psychiatric treatment and it would encourage states to set a new standard for committing people — the need for treatment, not that they present an imminent danger.”

Related Links:

— “Shooting spree inspires call for mental health overhaul,” Liz Szabo, USA Today, May 27, 2014.

Posted in In The News.