Mental health law was first conceived as a separate field of law in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Before then, laws certainly existed on various topics later subsumed within mental health law. These included the law governing civil commitment, guardianship, the legal insanity defense, and incompetency to stand trial, among others. The common law had clarified some of the legal issues raised by mental illness, and there had been some statutory developments, but it was not until the U.S. Supreme Court began to constitutionalize the issues that these disparate strands of legal doctrine began to be thought of as a separate area of law. Read more about Mental Health Law.
Mental Health Law Research Topics
Modern courts often deal with a variety of psychosocial problems involving individuals in need of treatment and rehabilitation. Thus, problems of substance abuse, domestic violence, child abuse and neglect, juvenile delinquency, and family disintegration increasingly have come to the attention of the courts. The approach of therapeutic jurisprudence has helped to pioneer new judicial models for dealing with these issues, including specialized treatment or problem-solving courts such as drug treatment court, domestic violence court, mental health court, and unified family court. These new judicial models, inspired by and applying principles of therapeutic jurisprudence, represent an expansion of traditional mental health law to additional contexts in which the law seeks to improve the mental health and psychological functioning of the individual and the society.
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