Police Response to People With Mental Illness

During the last third of the 20th century, dramatic changes in regard to the treatment of people with mental illnesses occurred. In particular, the development of antipsychotic medications meant that many people, particularly with psychotic illnesses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, who had formerly been untreatable, were now able to receive medical treatment that effectively reduced many of their symptoms. At the same time, changes in mental health legislation resulted in an increase in the rights and privileges accorded to people with such problems. In combination, these factors resulted in significant numbers of people with mental illnesses being discharged from psychiatric hospitals and, thus, living in the community. This contributed to a substantial increase in the number of interactions between police and people with ...

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