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'A Boost for Mental Health'

May 21, 1985

Thank you for your editorial. It has an excellent brief summary of the current situation and the Bronzan bill.

A great number of people in California are aware of the shortcoming concerning conditions that you mention. It was specifically excluded from the bill because of anticipated controversy due to the objections by "well-meaning" but uninformed patients' rights advocates who argue that a person has a constitutional right to refuse treatment, if he is not a danger to society at the time of his court appearance, regardless of his previous behavior, the habituality of his illness and the expected consequence of going without treatment.

They would rather have a mentally ill person confined as a felon, commit suicide, starve himself to death or wander around Skid Row, as many do, because the courts feel obliged to follow these misguided ideals.

These self-appointed advocates of free choice have been responsible for the "revolving-door" syndrome, which brings the same mentally ill back to court time and again.

If treatment is provided, which in many cases would be through an out-patient program including indicated psychotropic medication and rehabilitation training, many of these people could become productive members of society. Court-directed treatment does not mean incarceration. It does not mean that more beds are needed. It does not mean more cost to the taxpayer. By reducing membership in the "revolving-door" club the courts will reduce their load. Through proper treatment the mentally ill will have fewer court appearances and parents will not have to burden the courts as frequently for conservatorships when their ill son or daughter is receiving proper treatment.

Patients' rights advocates agree that informed consent must be preserved, but they cannot understand or accept that fact that this invisible pernicious disease makes it impossible for many mentally ill people to be informed or to accept information about their illness and therefore do not and cannot make an informed consent.



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