Open this link on your smartphone for mobile information about the involuntary treatment laws in your state.
In a mental health crisis, your first priority will be to protect your loved one and others from dangerous or inappropriate behaviors that result from untreated or uncontrolled mental illness. Because your family member may not even realize or acknowledge being ill, recruiting public health or other officials to intervene is frequently necessary.
To effectively advocate for intervention, it is essential to know the civil commitment standards for intervention in your state or the state where the family member lives.
At least two - and, in all but a handful of states, three - forms of court-ordered treatment are authorized by state law. States use different names to describe each form of treatment.
- Emergency hospitalization for evaluation (sometimes called "psychiatric hold" or "pick-up") in a treatment facility for psychiatric evaluation; typically short intervention of fixed duration (e.g., 72 hours).
- Civil commitment – inpatient. Also labeled differently in different states, civil commitment is a process whereby a judge orders a person with symptoms of mental illness who meets the state’s legal criteria to be held in a hospital beyond the emergency detention period. Civil commitment exists in all states, but the standards that must be met for it to occur vary from state to state. It is essential to know the standards for civil commitment in your own state.
- Civil commitment – outpatient. Assisted outpatient treatment (AOT), which also goes by different names in different states (e.g., outpatient commitment or mandated outpatient treatment), is a process whereby a judge orders a qualifying person with symptoms of mental illness to adhere to a mental health treatment plan while living in the community. AOT laws have been passed in 45 states, but the standards for ordering it vary from state to state. It is essential to know the standards for court-ordered outpatient treatment in your own state. For answers to Frequently Asked Questions about assisted outpatient treatment, click here.
State-by-state information about each form of civil commitment laws, standards and procedures may be found as follows:
- "Assisted Psychiatric Treatment: Inpatient and Outpatient Standards by State" - essential information about laws governing court-ordered hospitalization (inpatient) and community treatment (often called "assisted outpatient treatment" or "AOT")
- "Emergency Hospitalization for Evaluation: Assisted Psychiatric Treatment Standards by State" - essential information about criteria for emergency hospitalization for psychiatric evaluation (also called "hold," "pick-up," "detention," "provisional hospitalization," "72-hour emergency admission" or other)
- "Initiating Court-Ordered Assisted Treatment: Inpatient, Outpatient and Emergency Hospitalization Standards by State"- essential information about who may initiate proceedings leading to court-ordered treatment for an individual with symptoms of severe mental illness
- In Your State - state-specific news, information and developments; to access, choose your state from the drop-down menu on the US map that appears on every page of the website