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Mental Disorder and Perceived Threat to the Public: People Who Don't Return to Community Living
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Background: In the UK, people with mental disorder thought to pose a high risk of harm to others are usually put in a high security (special) hospital. Little is known about what happens after that.

Aims: To test a hypothesis that, under current services and laws (from the mid-1980s), no one leaving high-security hospitals remains indefinitely institutionalised.

Method: The special hospitals’ case register was used for case ascertainment and admission data; post-discharge data were collected from multiple sources on patients dischargedin1984 (census date 31.12.1995).

Results: In this discharge cohort (n¼223), 36 (17%) did not return to the community: 17 died in special hospital and 19 continuously lived in other institutions until death or the census date. Over two thirds of these had mental illness, were older on admission and had lived longer in special hospital than their better rehabilitated peers. Offending history was irrelevant to this. Most post-discharge institution time was in open psychiatric hospital, or back in special hospital, not in medium secure units or prison.

Conclusions: The hypothesis was not sustained, but fewer people never reached the community than before the mid-1980s. Atypical antipsychotics might reduce this number. We found no justification for a new tier of long-term medium secure units. (Authors)
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A program of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Mental Health Services