Consequences of Violating the Right to Therapy

Spectrum E-News, in collaboration with the Mental Health Project of Spectrum Institute, will be publishing a series of articles on the consequences when adults with developmental disabilities do not receive prompt and equal access to a full range of mental health therapies available to people without disabilities. The right to such access is protected by the constitution as well as state and federal nondiscrimination laws. The willful or negligent deprivation of necessary mental health therapy may be a form of elder or dependent adult abuse which could trigger criminal and civil liability for those responsible.  Professional fiduciaries and licensed professionals who willfully or negligently violate the right to therapy also could face administrative discipline and other civil liabilities.

This series will explore the potential consequences of violating the right to mental health therapy – consequences to individuals with developmental disabilities, their families, and to those who are the gatekeepers to such services such as professional guardians and primary care physicians. Articles will also delve into the financial consequences that the deprivation of mental health therapy can have on state and local resources, such as extra burdens being placed on entitlement programs, law enforcement services, and judicial proceedings.

The series will be produced by college interns working under the supervision of Tina Baldwin, director of the Mental Health Project and Thomas F. Coleman, legal director of Spectrum Institute and executive editor of Spectrum E-News. Spectrum E-News is the editorial and news division of Spectrum Institute. The series will be launched by Tanner Coe, a third-year student at UCLA. Tanner is a Regents Scholar who is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in public affairs with a minor in disability studies. A law student from Loyola Law School in Los Angeles will participate in research and writing for the series during the summer. Advisors to the Mental Health Project will be consulted for their opinions and recommendations.

Click Here to download a pdf version of this article.

Anyone who would like to share information on these topics should email Tina Baldwin
( or Emmi Deckard (