Cohen on the Rising Rate of Forced Psychiatric Detentions

David Cohen, UCLA Luskin professor of social welfare, was cited in a Los Angeles Times op-ed about a California bill that would expand the state’s ability to impose psychiatric care on people. Research on involuntary psychiatric detention has shed light on the harsh realities of policies that claim to help those struggling with mental illnesses. Forced detentions have been found to have negative outcomes, with people experiencing severe trauma and distress from brutal methods such as stripping, restraints and heavy tranquilization. A landmark 2020 study by Cohen and Gi Lee found that detentions in the U.S. increased at a rate three times faster than the country’s population growth. It is estimated that the U.S. has about 1.2 million forced detentions under civil law every year. This rate is drastically higher than for countries in Europe, which have two or three times fewer forced detentions.


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