Involuntary Detention and Treatment: Are We Edging Toward a "Paradigm Shift"?

Schizophr Bull. 2020 Feb 26;46(2):231-235. doi: 10.1093/schbul/sbz115.


Recent challenges to conventional mental health laws concerning involuntary detention and treatment of persons with a mental disorder have led to proposals, or indeed an insistence, that fundamental reform is necessary. A key theme has been the need to eliminate unfair discrimination against people with a mental disorder because their human rights are not respected on an equal basis with other people. Some proposals depart radically from conventional assumptions concerning the justification of involuntary detention and treatment. One is a "fusion law," a generic law applying to all persons lacking the ability to make a treatment decision, whether resulting from a "mental" or "physical" illness. An authoritative interpretation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006) goes so far as to maintain that involuntary interventions are a violation of the Convention.

Keywords: capacity; coercion; disabilities; human rights.

MeSH terms

  • Commitment of Mentally Ill / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Disabled Persons / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Human Rights / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / therapy*
  • Mentally Ill Persons / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Patient Preference / legislation & jurisprudence*