Cohen on Involuntary Psychiatric Detentions as a Social Justice Issue

Social Welfare Professor David Cohen was featured in a Mad in America article summarizing his research findings on psychiatric detentions in the United States. According to Cohen’s research, the rate at which Americans are confined against their will under mental health laws has increased dramatically over the past decade. “This is the most controversial intervention in mental health — you’re deprived of liberty, can be traumatized and then stigmatized — yet no one could tell how often it happens in the United States,” Cohen said. “We saw the lack of data as a social justice issue, as an accountability issue.” He gathered data from court and justice systems, journal articles, state health websites and other sources to fill the gaps in literature. Cohen concluded that “state and private agencies, lay and professional groups, and independent researchers should shed more light on involuntary psychiatric detentions, their correlates and their outcomes.”


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