TIME magazine's report, “Will California adopt ‘Laura’s Law’?”, didn't contain much news for those of us at the forefront of advocacy for better mental illness treatment laws, but it supplied us with a few reminders worth paying attention to.
First is that court-ordered outpatient treatment’s potential to address the consequences of not treating severe mental illness is a matter of national significance. When multiple national publications – TIME, the New Yorker, American Spectator and others – and literally scores of local and regional media outlets find the issue worth examining, AOT is clearly on the national radar screen. As it should be.
Second is that greater visibility gives opponents more opportunity and more motivation to spread misleading or false information about assisted outpatient treatment
(AOT) and our work for its implementation. In the TIME article
, for example, a Los Angeles County official who underwent court-ordered hospitalization in the 1970s associated Laura’s Law with having hospitals “pull your pants down and inject you and then to have deleterious side effects.” Powerful image – but irrelevant and deceptive because California's assisted outpatient law does not authorize forced medication.
Which brings us to the third reminder. With greater visibility and a more motivated opposition, the importance and need only grows for dedicated supporters to monitor, advocate, educate, correct and otherwise dispel myths and provide factual information and personal testimonials wherever and whenever treatment laws are under discussion or in the news.
The Treatment Advocacy Center website is the most comprehensive online source of information about treatment laws for severe mental illness and a host of related issues. When the opportunity to speak out comes around where you live, visiting your own state’s page (accessed via the US map to the right), our Civil Commitment Laws page or Reports, Studies, Backgrounders is an excellent place to start. Tips for effective advocacy can be found in Get Involved.