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Cohen on Coerced Care That ‘Retraumatizes People Who Have Often Been Traumatized’

UCLA Luskin Social Welfare Professor David Cohen spoke to PBS NewsHour about new laws and policies that would make it easier to detain or hospitalize the severely mentally ill against their will. In California, mental health emergencies combined with a rise in homelessness have set the stage for Senate Bill 42, which would allow the state to compel more mentally ill patients into care. However, said Cohen, there is not much data on the success of forced mental health treatment, which “retraumatizes people who have often been traumatized.” People suffering from serious mental illness may need a form of asylum, but one that’s voluntary, he added. “We do need a place for people who can’t take care of themselves,” Cohen said. “What is asylum? It’s shelter. It’s space. It’s books. It’s drugs, if they want them. Probably, 80% of it is just finding shelter for people.” The PBS NewsHour segment on coerced care begins at minute 30.


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