The Los Angeles Times this week published my op-ed about the situation in California, and in the U.S. more broadly. If you’ve wanted a 980-word ‘crash course’ intro to my book, this touches on some of the key themes.

Opinion: California wants more psychiatric detentions. That’s unlikely to improve anyone’s mental health

Another mental health bill is before the California Senate, passed by the judiciary committee on April 25. This bill, backed by some urban mayors, would make it easier to forcibly treat more people. It comes on the heels of CARE Court, a program rolling out this year that broadened state powers to impose psychiatric care.

Promoters of forced treatment often push a well-known tale: Since the 1950s, many state hospital asylums have closed, and strict, rights-protecting mental health laws emerged. Today, the story goes, practically no one gets compelled into psychiatric care even if they’re extremely dangerous. As a result, streets overflow with mentally ill people.

That narrative makes it seem reasonable to broaden laws to forcibly treat more people for mental disorders as a way to reduce homelessness. But this story disguises the fact that rates of detentions and forced treatment have been rising in the U.S. for decades without achieving measurable improvements on mental health or homelessness. Read the rest of the op-ed here. (Note: You may need to clear your browser cache memory to get the LA Times’ one free article per month.)

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