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Behavioral health issue brief: outpatient civil commitment.


Civil commitment is a term associated with involuntary treatment of individuals with mental illness. It can be an inpatient admission for treatment in a hospital or other health facility or it can be outpatient treatment that is court ordered. Either way the treatment is considered to be mandated or involuntary. But if a person, who suffers from mental illness, is not able to make appropriate decisions about his or her care and treatment, who will? How can society be assured that person takes the medication a physician says is needed to treat their illness? Opponents of civil commitment argue that it is a violation of a person's civil rights to order treatment. They fear that relaxing commitment standards may, again, lead to institutionalization of our mentally ill. Proponents contend that by not following recommended treatment plans these people can become a danger to themselves or others. Therefore, someone must take responsibility for them, otherwise they may violate the rights of, or fall victim to, others and are likely become incarcerated within the criminal justice system.

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