Defining dangerous: Navigating mental illness and mental health courts
The prior language of "dangerous conduct which may include
threatening behavior or conduct that places that person or another
individual in reasonable expectation of being harmed" has been
replaced with "conduct placing such person or another in physical
harm or in reasonable expectation of being physically harmed."
The language is also changed regarding someone who "because of the
nature of his or her illness, is unable to understand his or her need
for treatment and who, if not treated, is at risk of suffering or
continuing to suffer mental deterioration or emotional
deterioration." A three-pronged description now covers someone who
"refuses treatment or is not adhering adequately to prescribed
treatment, because of the nature of his or her illness is unable to
understand his or her need for treatment, and if not treated on an
inpatient basis is reasonably expected, based on his or her
behavioral history, to suffer mental or emotional deterioration."
Gherardini is hoping mental health law will stay on the right track
in the future.
"The improved legislation allows for earlier intervention. My hope is
that no one will ever again be forced to deteriorate and suffer
before being given the opportunity to receive treatment. Early
intervention and treatment works. It allows the person suffering from
mental illness to lead a more normal life. Society needs to
understand that having mental illness (a brain disease) is no
different than having cancer, Parkinson's, or diabetes," Gherardini
said. "It's something that you cannot help and medication can help.
If we can get people to understand that and not be so ashamed the
world will be a much better place."