3 Things to Understand About Involuntary Commitment

People who suffer from mental illness range from those who manage it well to those who cannot manage it on their own at all. Some will sit at home without harming themselves, while others will go about harming themselves and everyone else. For those individuals who are a danger to themselves and society, involuntary commitment sometimes comes into play. The following are some things you should understand about it before you consider having your loved one committed.

There Is Specific Criteria That Must Be Met

Every state outlines its own criteria that must be met in order to have someone committed involuntarily. For example, in one state, the individual must have a diagnosed and severe mental illness that causes him or her to be a danger to others. Another state might require the mentally ill to have a chronic disability. Another criterion might be that his or her behavior has shown treatment is needed and he or she would benefit from it.

Not Anyone Can Request Involuntary Commitment

Again, this is typically regulated by state, but not just anyone can request someone to be involuntarily committed. In most cases, the person requesting commitment has to be at least 18 years old. In some cases, the individual might need to be a close family member. To request commitment, a petition must be filed with the Board of Mental Illness. If immediate help is sought, such as in the midst of a domestic dispute, the individual should call 911. The loved one him or herself can’t place a hold on someone who is mentally ill. That is the job of a Qualified Mental Health Professional (QMHP) or law enforcement officer.

Involuntary Commitment Is a Process

In many cases, you can’t just file a request and have your loved one committed in a matter of hours. It’s a process that takes time. First, the petition is filed. It must contain probable cause that criteria has been met. Next, a QMHP will evaluate the mentally ill individual to see if he or she should be detained or released. If the individual is held, he or she will be put in protective custody until a hearing with the County Board of Mental Illness approximately five days later. Finally, a decision will be made on whether to involuntarily commit the individual.

Getting a Professional Involved

When your loved one suffers from mental illness, it can be hard for family members to know what to do. If it has gotten to the point you feel he or she should be committed, contact a professional therapist, like a therapist from Lotus Wellness Center, to discuss the specifics so you know what steps to take next.