MENTAL HEALTH: Forced Treatment Measure Stalls in Senate
A controversial bill that would have would have made it easier to force mentally ill adults into treatment against their wishes has stalled in the state Senate and is likely to die there when the current legislative session concludes at the end of the month, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. Sponsored by Assemblywoman Helen Thomson (D-Davis), the measure would have revised the 1968 Lanterman-Petris-Short Act, which provided civil rights to the mentally ill. Under that act, forcing the mentally ill into treatment or long hospital stays is prohibited. Only those who presented a danger to themselves or others can be detained for three days. Longer hospital stays or forced medical treatment requires two separate judicial hearings. Thomson's bill, passed by the Assembly in May, sought to streamline the legal process and "allowed for the detention of people whose history of mental illness makes it likely they are about to become dangerous." Backed by the California Alliance for the Mentally Ill, Thomson said that the measure would reduce the number of mentally ill homeless by getting them necessary treatment and follow-up care. After an "emotional debate," members of the Senate requested more information on the potential impact of the bill and hired the Rand Corp. to conduct a study. With the findings slated for release in December, Thomson spokesperson Craig Reynolds called the study "a waste of time." He said, "Helen has made it clear that this issue has been studied to death and at this point a study is only a stalling tactic. All the studies are already there for the reading" (Brooks, 8/20).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.