PA’s controversial mental health law on involuntary treatment stands to get a test run more than 3 years after its passing.
PublicSource, July 5, 2022, by Juliette Rihl: Paul and Christine, of Montgomery County, know what it feels like to helplessly watch their child’s mental health deteriorate.
After two hospitalizations in 2020 and 2021 for mental health crises, their 30-year-old son stopped taking his medication and following other aspects of his treatment plan. He rarely leaves his room, doesn’t make eye contact and goes days without bathing, Paul said — all symptoms of the early stages of psychosis.
“We’re still in crisis. Every day is [a] crisis,” said Paul, who has requested his last name be withheld to protect their family’s identity.
Paul and Christine believe their son, who was diagnosed with schizophrenia in 2020 and, later, unspecified psychosis, might be more likely to comply with treatment if it were mandated by a court. But for now, the only thing they can do is watch his condition worsen.
There’s a three-year-old Pennsylvania law in place that the family thinks could help him, but it has never been used, according to the state Department of Human Services.
In some counties, though, that’s about to change. Five counties across the state — Bucks and Dauphin, along with Carbon, Monroe and Pike, which operate their mental health services together — are gearing up to launch Pennsylvania’s first assisted outpatient treatment pilot programs by 2023, if not sooner, thanks to grant funds provided by the state.
Read more at PublicSource here.