Though there are many people both within the mental health professions and within the general public who are adverse to the idea of involuntary mental health treatment, there are scores of legislators, professionals, and concerned people in favor of requiring that some people receive help. Such help might take the form of psychotherapy or other modern types of treatment, with a principal goal of preventing potential harm inflicted against the client or others. In Canada, a recent incident allegedly involving a Mountie officer has sparked debate over how mandatory mental health treatment should be employed.
While the police department retains the ability to insist that officers on its force receive appropriate care in certain situations involving the potential for loss of job performance, or of damage, the department is not legally able to require that suspended officers receive such treatment. Following a murder case in which a Mountie with a record of mental health symptoms has been implicated, the department suspended the officer, and is now unable to ensure the man receives adequate care, as he has expressed a disdain for treatment. The man has refused help, citing that his ability to manipulate mental health practitioners renders him immune to healing.
Critics of laws enabling involuntary therapy and other types of care might suggest that an unwillingness to approach treatment alone may signal a lack of receptivity to care, bound to result in negative outcomes. Yet others in favor of allotting greater control to the state for mental health care may argue that without more strict measures to protect people in need and those around them, needless tragedies are likely to occur. As Canada reacts to its case, the global discussion on involuntary care proves contentious.
© Copyright 2010 by By John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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