A Perspective From a Former Homeless Woman - personally speaking


valerie-fox-newI live in New Jersey, and for many, many years I have advocated with others, usually families and some mental health professionals for the establishment of Involuntary Outpatient Commitment (IOC) in New Jersey. In other states this treatment option is sometimes known as Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT). Never were many consumers (persons who live with mental illness) in favor of this treatment. I thought this was probably because of much mis-information generated.

I have found when in meetings with other consumers that when IOC was objectively presented, most if not all thought it was a good safety measure in their journeys of living with mental illness.

I never understood why there was so very much resistance to IOC, and here is why. First, in New Jersey if a person is not in imminent danger of being a danger of self or others or property, IOC does not apply to that situation. If a person is in danger of harming self or others or property and refuses treatment, the person would be eligible for this sometimes life-saving treatment option which can legally mandate treatment for the person. Once targeted for IOC, if the person is assessed that he/she can be treated successfully in the community, this is excellent because the person does not have to be sent to in-patient treatment which can be very disruptive to one’s life. Sometimes, even with IOC a person will have to be hospitalized, but at least the possible option of staying in the community was an option.

I have read in states where IOC has been used that a number of persons given this treatment option have stabilized and are living a good quality of life. They express thanks for having had the opportunity of Assisted Treatment.

I would like to say to the persons critical of IOC because the person’s choice, they believe, is infringed on that if a person does not have free will to make rational decisions, I think it is kind and humane to help the person again live in reality as opposed to living in a world of voices and delusions and probably suffering from many dangers that befall vulnerable persons.

In January, 2012, New Jersey has issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for this treatment option. It is further my belief that when the critics of IOC see the good this treatment can do, they will instead of being critical embrace this as another option to help the mentally ill, targeting persons who in the past had to fend for themselves when they have no defenses! 


(a person in recovery) 
Reprinted with permission of Valerie Fox
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