An article published in the August 6th edition of Psychiatric News:
By Rich Daly
Eleven years after the Supreme Court required that community-based treatments be offered to people institutionalized with major health conditions, including serious mental illness, that promise remains unfulfilled and may need legal action to get back on track.
Numerous initiatives by Congress, federal agencies, and mental health advocates have greatly expanded access to community-based treatment for people with serious mental illness in the 11 years since the Supreme Court required such alternatives for qualified people in institutional care. But some observers warn that those efforts are stagnating or even receding.
The Supreme Court's 1999 Olmstead v. L.C. decision declared that “unjustified institutional isolation of persons with disabilities is a form of discrimination” under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) and obligated states to serve those individuals in the most “integrated” setting possible. Since then, mental health advocates have sought to move most people with serious mental illness out of institutional settings and into community treatment where they would have opportunities to work, socialize, and move freely in society.
Those efforts have resulted in community-based treatment and assisted-living programs throughout the country that usually cost states much less than the institutional programs they succeeded, according to Robert Bernstein, president and director of the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law.
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