(Mar. 6, 2013) Assisted outpatient treatment – not law enforcement – is the solution to untreated mental illness, Treatment Advocacy Center founder Dr. E. Fuller Torrey testified at a Congressional hearing on mental health care yesterday.
“Mentally ill patients are far less likely to become violent if they get treated,” Dr. Torrey told the House Energy and Commerce oversight committee. Assisted outpatient treatment is the solution, he said, and is particularly useful for people who experience repeat hospitalizations and suffer from anosognosia.
The hearing was staged to show the “anguish felt by parents of mentally ill children and young adults who struggle with police and health care providers to get treatment,” according to an NBC News report (“Parents to Congress: Police no solution to mental illness).
Pat Milam, who lost his son to untreated severe mental illness after encountering innumerable obstacles to treatment, testified that he “repeatedly begged doctors in New Orleans to keep his psychotic and suicidal son hospitalized.” After being released from the hospital over Milam’s objections, his son killed himself with a propane bomb in his bedroom.
Author Pete Earley also described the struggles he has faced as the father of a son with severe mental illness. “[N]o father should ever be told, ‘Bring your son back after he tries to kill someone or tries to kill you,’" he testified. Earley reported his son “is doing great” after receiving treatment.
Liza Long, the Idaho mother who wrote the viral Internet essay, “I am Adam Lanza’s mother,” also testified. “Parents like me are struggling physically, emotionally, and financially,” she told the subcommittee members.
The message to Congress was clear: Treatment for severe mental illness would save lives and family.
Demand that they listen:
SEND a letter to your US Congressperson and Senator. Tell them you support the Treatment Advocacy Center’s proposal for a nationwide assisted outpatient treatment (AOT) demonstration project because it would help save lives and families from the negative outcomes of non-treatment. Be sure to include your personal story about how untreated mental illness impacts your family and would benefit from wider use of AOT.