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The case for mandatory outpatient treatment.

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  • 1Saint Clare's Behavioral Health Services, Denville, NJ 07834, USA.


Research on the effectiveness of mandatory outpatient treatment, which is court-ordered mental health follow up, supports its use with individuals who have serious mental illness. Many states already have some kind of mandatory outpatient treatment in place, but it is often underused. Much of the criticism of mandatory outpatient treatment is based on the fact that research demonstrating its efficacy is limited and that its implementation infringes on individuals' rights. However, sufficient evidence can be found in the literature to support its use for some individuals with chronic mental illness living in the community. In addition, the ethical principles of beneficence, utilitarianism, and communitarianism support its use in some situations. Mandatory outpatient treatment is an ethical and effective method shown to be helpful with individuals who have mental illness and are nonadherent to treatment. Expanding its use in appropriate situations is in the best interest of those with serious mental illness and society in general.

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