In the majority of states, but not all, there are laws concerning mandated treatment in the community. These are used with people who, as a result of their history, are unlikely to accept treatment that is necessary for them to survive in the community. These go by various names and perhaps the most well-known is New York State’s Kendra’s Law or assisted outpatient treatment (AOT).
With AOT, various people (family members, psychiatrists, psychologists, etc.) can petition the court to have treatment provided in the community on an involuntary basis, if needed. AOT orders involve a clear demonstration that the person with the mental disorder has consistently refused treatment and are unlikely to manage in the community without it. If the person under an AOT order continues to refuse treatment, the law allows for the person to be brought to a hospital and admitted. Again, there is great variability between the states and a good place to get this information is through your own state’s Department or Division of Mental Health Services.
AOT programs are a source of a good deal of controversy and conflict. Many patients’ rights advocates believe these infringe on the individual’s constitutional rights, while family advocacy groups more typically are in support of AOT programs.