The Network on Mental Health and the Law was established to build an empirical foundation for the next generation of mental health laws — laws that will assure the rights and the safety of individuals and of society. The Network had two primary mandates: to develop new knowledge about the relationships between mental health and the law, and to turn that understanding into improved tools and criteria for evaluating individuals and making decisions that affect their lives. The Network included experts from the fields of clinical, developmental, and social psychology; sociology; psychiatry; law; and mental health administration and policy. The Network’s studies focused primarily on three pivotal issues: the competence of mentally disordered people to make autonomous decisions in civiland criminal law, the violence risk that sometimes
accompanies mental disorder, and the coercion that often characterizes interventions to redress incompetence or reduce risk.
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