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May 19, 1993

Treating the Homeless Mentally III: A Task Force Report of the American Psychiatric Association

Author Affiliations

Community Mental Health Council, Inc University of Illinois College of Medicine Chicago


edited by H. Richard Lamb, Leona L. Bachrach, and Frederic I. Kass, 315 pp, $32.50, ISBN 0-89042-236-2, Washington, DC, American Psychiatric Association, 1992.

JAMA. 1993;269(19):2558-2559. doi:10.1001/jama.1993.03500190102047

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This is an informative, well-written, easy-to-read, good book by experts in the field. It begins by noting that the recommendations published in the first task force report, The Homeless Mentally Ill (1984), were never fully carried out and strongly recommends actualization of the first report's suggestions. The book has a balanced approach and advocates for patients' rights without throwing out the need for medication and involuntary commitment.

"advoca[ting] patients' rights without throwing out... medication and involuntary commitment"

Section one covers the context of treatment and provides an excellent literature review that addresses the prevalence of mental illness and drug abuse among the homeless. A down-to-earth discussion of deinstitutionalization looks at the hard realities of the seriously and chronically mentally ill and their actual potential for vocational rehabilitation. The need for therapeutic but realistic optimism is stressed along with this population's need for asylum and shelter in the community. There is