Florida, like every state, has its own civil commitment laws and standards establishing the criteria that must be met before an individual can be ordered into involuntary treatment in the hospital or in the community for symptoms of severe mental illness. The Florida Mental Health Act authorizes both inpatient (hospital) and outpatient (community) treatment, which was termed "involuntary outpatient placement" in the Baker Act reform legislation that made Florida the 43rd state with assisted outpatient treatment (AOT) . Florida still uses a treatment standard based primarily on a person’s likelihood of being dangerous instead of using a more progressive “need for treatment” standard as in many states.





A person may be placed in involuntary inpatient treatment under a court finding of clear and convincing evidence that mental illness is present and that because of the mental illness, the individual:

  • is unable or refuses to make responsible decisions with respect to voluntary placement for treatment AND either
  • without treatment, be incapable of surviving alone or with the help of willing family or friends, or be likely to suffer from neglect or refuse to care for himself/herself in a manner that will pose a real and present threat of substantial harm to well-being; OR
  • be a danger to self/others, as evidenced by recent behavior

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

  • be unlikely to survive safely in community without supervision;
  • have a history of noncompliance that includes two hospitalizations in past 36 months; or
  • act/threaten/attempt violence to self/others in 36 months immediately preceding petition filing;
    • be unlikely to voluntarily participate;
    • be in need of intervention in order to prevent relapse or deterioration likely to result in serious harm to self/others;
    • and likely to benefit from assisted 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.


Florida News

  • A Widow's Story
    on 12/09/13 ( Blog / FL )

    (Dec. 10, 2013) Joan Scott is a new widow who sent the following message to the Treatment Advocacy Center in June.

    Our son, Douglas, in the spring voluntarily went to Ft. Lauderdale Hospital, where he had been admitted four times before. They sent him to Broward General Hospital in Ft. Lauderdale for evaluation, and he was sent home the same day.

    A few weeks later, on April 15, the police took him to the same ER for an emergency psychiatric evaluation. He was sent home again.

    On April 17, the police again took him to the ER. This time, he was sent home with a prescription.

    Five days later, on April 22, he killed his father – my husband, Norman.

    Do you have any suggestions? What can I do to help stop tragedy?

    Joan is now working with us to raise awareness of the need for treatment before tragedy. She is advocating for public policies that provide timely and effective treatment for individuals with untreated severe mental illness. She has also has become a faithful Treatment Advocacy Center donor.

    “It’s too late for us, but it’s not too late for other families living with a loved one’s untreated mental illness, and the Treatment Advocacy Center is the organization that’s there to help,” she says.

    Please join Joan in helping us make treatment possible for more of the people with severe mental illness who are least able to help themselves.

    Your gift of any size will help. Please give today by clicking here to make an online donation or to find mail-in instructions.

    To comment, visit our Facebook page. 
    Visit our blog archive to read all our recent posts.

  • Guest Blog: Lost In The Cracks of The System
    on 08/17/09 ( Blog / FL )

    This guest blog illuminates the excrutiating and unrelenting pain that results from NOT receiving timely and effective treatment for severe mental illness. Our thoughts are with Libba and for the safe return of her sister.

    My 25-year-old sister Ashley disappeared in the spring of 1999 from a life on the streets in Tampa, Florida.

  • To the Point on Treatment and Cost
    on 06/16/09 ( Blog / FL )

    A brief news report from WCTV in Tallahassee, Fla. sums up the link between providing treatment for mental illness and saving taxpayer dollars.

  • The High Cost of Jail
    on 03/24/09 ( Blog / FL )

    “More and more now, the mentally ill find themselves in jail again and again, often for petty crimes committed while they are off their medications,” writes Florida columnist Michael Goforth. 


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    Florida Questions and Answers

    If you have questions about getting help for someone in Florida or about the Baker Act, there is help.

    This helpful guide can answer many key questions.

    Learn more>>