I am disappointed by your coverage of the proposed Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) pilot in Frederick County (“State lawmakers pushing for assisted outpatient treatment pilot in Frederick County,” March 2, 2022).

I have a mental health condition, and I have experienced both forced drugging and coerced inpatient hospitalization. (I was given the “choice” to go into the hospital voluntarily or involuntarily, and I “chose” voluntarily.) Both experiences were traumatic. While Eric Smith, whom you quote extensively, said that he found AOT very helpful, you did not quote the many others who have had the opposite experience.

(6) comments


The LTE writer states "“Such coercion undermines consumer confidence and causes many consumers to avoid contact with the mental health system altogether. " I have to wonder how many people are voluntarily using the system now? Isn't the problem that there are those who need the system now but refuse help? Will voluntary efforts work? I certainly don't know the answers but we need to do more and try different approaches to see if we can come up with better outcomes for those with mental health issues and the community that may be impacted by those with mental health issues.


I support the AOT pilot in Frederick County. Bi-polar disorder is frightening and almost impossible to moderate when it enters its manic phase. Compulsory out-patient treatment might very well be the only alternative to jail and/or compulsory in-patient hospitalization in a State facility like Thomas B. Finan Center which is ill-equipped to provide therapeutic treatment.


From the original article: “‘The bill to establish an involuntary outpatient program in Frederick County (SB 807/HB 1017) would subject people who do not meet the legal standard for hospitalization to forced treatment,’ Melissa Rothstein, policy and development director for the Maryland Office of the Public Defender, said in an email.” Correct me if I am wrong, I am thinking that “outpatient” means “not hospitalized?” Not removed from their preferred environment? So the objection is to being forced into treatment after professional evaluation has taken place? I can understand resentment over forced hospitalization, but does that mean it was uncalled for? And this is not even about that. I knew someone this happened to in FLA. Her husband drove away, she threw herself into the street and would not stop screaming. She told me this herself, the neighbors called for help, she was hospitalized for overnight evaluation, ending up there 6 months, out of touch. Well. She had never been a calm person. She was brilliant and often erratic in her personal life and relationships. We were on/off, so the six months had passed peacefully for me until she left that long recorded message about the hospital. Oh. She’d finally been too much even for him. I had (selfishly) hoped it could not be so. She never thought she was too much but many ordinary support system people opted out on a routine basis for her unpredictable behaviors/demands and odd sense of retribution for perceived failings. I knew she badgered in any circumstance where “winning” her way was her issue. Transgressions in my case seemed comparatively mild. I said, “I have plans, no, tonight is not good,” so she showed up at my house with a pizza “instead.” I said no thank you and closed the door. Such a nice lady to bring me a pizza, yeah, just because I wouldn’t say where I was going or with whom or include her. Yelling and kicking the door. Neighbors calling to ask how could I not know the loudest pizza delivery person in the world was at the door. This is how people normally act, right? Her psychologist had even fired her. She just wouldn’t stop stalking and pushing boundaries. I was so relieved when she married and moved. I was a much better friend from farther away. Helping people before they qualify for hospitalization and then a forced stay seems like a good idea. But what do I know.


With a friend like you she didn't need enemies[angry]


Wow. CC, aren't you the winner of the enabler of the year award. As any mental health professional will tell you, people must have boundaries that must be respected, lest they become an enabling doormat. Talk to your therapist about it.


There are many far superior ways to address this problem when people - particularly families - don’t' overreact out of love, fear, shame, anger, and not wanting to be blamed -- fairly or unfairly. People who have life experience (peers) much like the writer, don't hit the diagnosis label button immediately, see the whole person, listen patiently and nonjudgmentally, and do not coerce with forced medications, imprisonment, and hyper suspicion of every move. Often when mutual confidence is built, the peer can often help diffuse the emotional turmoil and confusion and be able to use tough love to help individuals help themselves. There are several proven approaches like peer support, respite housing instead of psych wards, Emotional CPR, Open Dialogue, WRAP, and others. Check out Frederick’s On Our Own located in the Federated Charities building to learn more.

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