Not everyone is satisfied. Some patients’ advocates have condemned Murphy’s approach as coercive and harmful to those who need help. The government should not be expanding the system’s capability to hospitalize or impose treatment on those going through severe episodes, they say. It should instead be investing in community care that heads off the need for more serious treatment.
We do not see those aims as mutually exclusive, and neither do the bill’s backers. It makes obvious sense for the government to back community-based clinics that promise to prevent individuals’ mental illnesses from spiraling out of control, when possible. But some people with severe disorders do not know or do not admit that they are sick. For a small class who will not accept treatment between hospital visits or repeat arrests, states have good reason to require them to accept care, under judicial supervision.
Murphy’s reform package may not prevent the next Sandy Hook or Franklin Regional. But the changes would help relieve a lot of suffering that does not make the front page.