Policy Analysis

Containing Outbreaks - COVID-19 and Others: Lessons from the History of Mental Illness

Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)
Jun 30, 2020

History records that the quarantine method has been used to deal with epidemics from then until today. Containing epidemic outbreaks then and today means “locking sick people up”, regardless of their disease, whether of the mind or the body.

Should quarantines be made to resemble locking up mental patients guarded by the military? How effective would a coercively imposed quarantine in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic today? The broader history of how governments deal with mental illnesses could offer some preliminary insights and answers.

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