Hawaii, like every state, has its own civil commitment laws that establish criteria for determining when court-ordered treatment is appropriate for individuals with severe mental illness who are too ill to seek care voluntarily. The state authorizes both inpatient (hospital) and outpatient (community) treatment, which is known in Hawaii as "involuntary outpatient treatment."



For inpatient treatment, a person must meet the following criteria:

  • be mentally ill or suffering from substance abuse AND
  • be imminently dangerous to self or others,; AND
  • be in need of care or treatment, or both, and there is no suitable alternative available through existing facilities and programs which would be less restrictive than hospitalization.

For outpatient treatment, a person must meet the following criteria:

  • be mentally ill; AND
  • be unlikely to live safely in the community without available supervision based on the professional opinion of the psychiatrist; and
  • have, at some time in the past:
    • received inpatient hospital treatment for a mental  illness or substance abuse OR
    • been found to be imminently dangerous to self or others, as a result of mental illness; AND
  • based on the person's treatment history and current condition, be in need of treatment in order to prevent a relapse or deterioration which would predictably result in the person becoming imminently dangerous to self or others, AND
  • have a history of lack of adherence to treatment, and a current mental status or disorder that limits the person's ability to make an informed decision to voluntarily seek or comply with recommended treatment.

State standards for emergency hospitalization for evaluation and state-by-state information on initiating emergency hospitalization and assisted inpatient or outpatient treatment can be found from our Civil Commitment Laws and Standards page. 


Visit Get Help for tools and information about preparing for and handling a psychiatric crisis.

Visit Get Involved for information about how you can help bring down barriers to the timely and effective treatment of severe mental illness.




Hawaii News

  • A System in Need of Repair
    on 03/09/09 ( Blog / HI )

    Hawaii’s mental health system needs repair. 

  • An Aloha State Wake Up Call
    on 08/20/08 ( Blog / HI )

    A string of recent tragedies in Hawaii has put mental illness high on the list of state concerns.

  • The Toll of the Disease Itself
    on 07/15/08 ( Blog / HI )

    In Hawaii this week hikers at a scenic cliff found the decomposing body of Steven Thomas, 36, a computer whiz who made millions as co-founder of the software company Webroot.


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