As a psychiatric nurse for more than 42 years, I read with great interest Michael Rezendes’s article about legislating mandated outpatient treatment for certain mentally ill people in Massachusetts (“Push renewed for forced mental treatment,” Metro, Oct. 22). I know that there is concern about a loss of civil rights for those who would be affected; however, there is a small group of patients who, without treatment, will become aggressive toward others and pose a threat to public safety. Repeated hospitalizations and incarcerations for these individuals are costly to taxpayers and result in a loss of human potential.
The legislation proposed by state Representative Kay Khan, according to her website, would allow providers to petition to treat mentally ill people “whose ability to make informed decisions about their care, such as controlling dangerous behavior, taking medication, and keeping appointments,” has been impaired by their illness. It involves a real treatment plan with periodic reviews by the court.
Marylou Sudders, former commissioner of the state Department of Mental Health, cites the current mechanism of Rogers guardianships. These can take years to obtain, and, once obtained, are difficult to enforce.
I have seen the side effects of some of the psychiatric medications, and they are unpleasant. I have also seen hospital and group home staff and other residents beaten severely and, in the case of Stephanie Moulton, murdered. My colleagues and I know that there will be another case such as hers — it’s not a matter of if but when. I suggest that clients such as the man who killed Moulton are the population that should be subject to an outpatient treatment mandate.