Duty of Care to Students in Extreme Mental States
Stressful conditions are increasing among Australian university students but the universities are not sufficiently equipped to deal with the problem. When university student counselors encounter students in extreme mental states, the normal course of action is to refer these students for psychiatric control. Counselors' duty of care holds them responsible for ensuring that psychotic or near-psychotic students do not harm themselves or others. Counselors are guided by the knowledge of a tiny number of extreme cases where distressed students have consulted counselors before committing multiple murders. However, the use of precautionary psychiatry gives rise to an ethical dilemma because psychiatric control inevitably means neuroleptic drug treatment which has harmful effects. The solution would be to refer students in extreme mental states to drug-free residential treatment facilities under medical supervision, after the fashion of Diabasis and Soteria House. Unfortunately, this alternative is not generally available, even though it has been repeatedly shown to be safer, cheaper, and more therapeutically beneficial than conventional drug treatment methods.
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Document Type: Journal Article
Affiliations: University of Wollongong, Australia
Publication date: January 1, 2001
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