Monitor critical of Del. courts on mentally ill

A court-appointed monitor says Delaware courts are ordering too many people with mental illness to involuntary outpatient services.

Robert Bernstein is monitoring the state's progress in revamping its mental health services under a five-year settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice.

The News Journal reports Bernstein has largely praised the state's progress. But he says court-ordered treatment is too high at more than six times the rate of New York. Court orders for treatment increased 28 percent in the last half of 2012.

Bernstein says using the court to force treatment is an emergency-only approach elsewhere. He says commitment hearings often last about five minutes and rely on recommendations of doctors who have not treated a person. Bernstein also found patients often are not aware of their rights.

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