THE TRUTH ABOUT DEINSTITUTIONALIZATION

Health, Policies

THE TRUTH ABOUT DEINSTITUTIONALIZATION

A popular theory links the closing of state psychiatric hospitals to the increased incarceration of people with mental illness. But the reality is more complicated.

When a person has a mental-health crisis in America, it is almost always law enforcement—not a therapist, social worker, or psychiatrist—who responds to the 911 call. But most officers aren’t adequately trained to deal with mental-health emergencies. And while laws intended to protect civil liberties make it exceedingly difficult to hospitalize people against their will, it is remarkably easy to arrest them.

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