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Outpatient treatment needed for the mentally ill [Letter]

11:00 AM EST, January 6, 2014

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Psychiatrists Steven S. Sharfstein and John J. Boronow recently noted that Maryland does not have an assisted outpatient treatment program for people with serious mental illness ("Close the mental health revolving door," Dec. 29).

Assisted outpatient treatment programs allow courts to order a very narrowly defined class of individuals — those with a history of violence, arrest or needless hospitalizations — to stay in treatment as a condition of living in the community.

Assisted outpatient programs reduced homelessness, hospitalizations, arrests and incarcerations in New York, California, North Carolina and 39 other states. Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Tim Murphy recently proposed the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act, which includes money for assisted outpatient treatment pilot programs that, if passed, could fund an AOT program in Maryland.

D.J. Jaffe, New York

The writer is executive director of Mental Illness Policy Org.

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