Jul 30, 2013

Court-Ordered Mental Health Treatment Shows Positive Results

On July 30, 2013, The New York Times featured an article about legislation enacted in New York State allowing people with mental health disorders to be court-ordered to treatment, even if they are not hospitalized. Kendra's Law, as it is known, also allocates State resources to expand mental health services.

"The program, which costs New York $32 million for the 2,000 to 2,500 people under court order each year, provides intensive monitoring by caseworkers, who are supposed to ensure that patients attend therapy and adhere to medication. Under the law, New York also spends $125 million a year for enhanced outpatient mental health services for others."

The results are promising. 

Researchers from Duke University "examined costs for 634 people who received court orders between January 2004 and December 2005. It compared costs in the year before the court orders, the year after and two years after. Jeffrey Swanson, a psychiatry professor at Duke and lead author of the study, said the results suggested that 'if you pour some money into assisted outpatient treatment, if you target it correctly, there are some significant savings.'

"A co-author, Dr. Marvin Swartz, head of Duke’s social and community psychiatry division, said...  patients 'were less likely to return to the hospital, if they went to the hospital they had shorter lengths of stay, they were more likely to be adherent to medication, and generally they functioned better in the community."

The Duke study was published in The American Journal of Psychiatry.

Click here to read The New York Times article.

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