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The Treatment Advocacy Center is urging the Biden task force on gun violence to consider three changes in mental health policy to make mental illness treatment available to more individuals at risk for committing violent acts. 

The task force is expected to issue its recommendations by the end of January. Supporters of mental illness treatment reform are urged to email, call or write members of the task force led by Vice President Biden in support of these three realistic and effective approaches to making treatment available for those too ill to seek it themselves.

  • Foster universal adoption and use of court-ordered outpatient treatment (“assisted outpatient treatment” or “AOT”) for at-risk individuals by establishing and funding a national AOT demonstration project. Mental health courts became widespread after a similar federal project in the early 2000s.  
  • Promote reform of civil commitment laws and practices with educational programs to train judges, law enforcement and other stakeholders on their use of these laws, which exist to safeguard those with the most severe mental illness and the public.
  • Provide sufficient public psychiatric beds for individuals in psychiatric crisis or with chronic mental illness by repealing the IMD Exclusion, which creates an economic incentive for states to eliminate public psychiatric beds.

“Improving the laws that make treatment possible before tragedies occur needs to be a national priority,” said Doris A. Fuller, Treatment Advocacy Center executive director. “Our mental health system has completely abandoned people with the most serious mental illnesses, their families and communities. Until their needs are addressed, tragedy is predictable.”

Read and print our two-page “Mental Health Policy Reforms to Reduce Mass Shootings ” to the Gun Violence Task Force. For tips on effective advocacy, click here.


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