Resource Document on Mandatory Outpatient Treatment
UVA Law Faculty Affiliations
Mandatory outpatient treatment, or outpatient commitment, refers to court-ordered treatment for patients who suffer from severe mental illness and who are unlikely to be compliant with such treatment without a court order. Many states already have commitment statutes that permit mandatory outpatient treatment, and others are considering enacting new legislation or amending existing statutes. This Resource Document was prepared under the auspices of the American Psychiatric Association's Council on Psychiatry and Law to provide information to those who are drafting mandatory outpatient treatment legislation. It begins with a review of the history of mandatory outpatient treatment and recent empirical findings, followed by a detailed discussion of the salient issues in mandatory outpatient treatment. The document concludes with a statement of recommendations concerning key provisions in statutory schemes of mandatory outpatient treatment programs. This Resource Document endorses the view that mandatory outpatient treatment can be a useful intervention for a small subset of noncompliant patients with severe and chronic mental illness who go in and out of psychiatric hospitals through the so-called "revolving door."