Georgia, 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 Georgia as "involuntary outpatient treatment."

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

  • be in need of involuntary treatment AND
    • (1) imminent danger to self/others, evidenced by recent overt acts or expressed threats of violence OR
    • (2) unable to care for physical health and safety so as to create an imminently life-endangering crisis and in need of involuntary treatment.

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

  • based on treatment history or current mental status, requires outpatient treatment in order to avoid predictably and imminently becoming an inpatient AND
  •  unable to voluntarily seek or comply with outpatient 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.


Georgia News

  • Hope At Last - personally speaking
    on 03/29/13 ( Blog / GA )

    (Mar. 29, 2013)This is a short story about a long five and a half years. My son Bill graduated from high school in 2003 and started working, saving, dating and other typical activities. 

    It was in the later part of 2007, at the age of 22, when we started noticing changes in Bill. He was becoming paranoid about his co-workers and was making narcissistic comments. Some of Bill’s mannerisms were becoming unusual and he was showing signs of withdrawal. We did not think much of this other then it seemed odd. We had no knowledge about mental illness.

    In 2008, Bill was fired from his job. Shortly after that, at the age of 23, Bill had his first of many psychotic episodes. He called me from his home and said there were people in is house with guns trying to hunt him down and kill him. I responded as any father would by calling 911 and rapidly responding to his home.  We found Bill delusional and hallucinating. Bill was left in my temporary custody to obtain him psychiatric help. Bill refused any help.

    Over the next four and half years he became more delusional. Numerous times, we had to get him committed involuntarily for emergency evaluation by petitioning the local magistrate court to obtain a court order. Unfortunately, Georgia law only allows 72-hour retention unless the patient is determined by medical professionals to be in imminent danger to self or others.

    Bill was hospitalized five times over the next four years for short durations and diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. Sadly, Bill has anosognosia, blindness to his own illness. After each time he was stabilized, he would eventually quit taking his medication and crash into another psychotic episode. I cannot tell you how painful this has been for everyone and the impact to our family.

    In 2012, Bill obtained a pistol. I was able to get the pistol from him and get him involuntarily committed again for emergency evaluation. He was treated at the West Central State Mental Health Hospital for 90 days. Then - with me working with the state hospital doctors, case managers and with a local case expeditor from the state - we were able to present Bill’s medical history in a local court and obtain a court order for a mandatory outpatient program.

    This program, although not specifically called “assisted outpatient treatment” or AOT, provides Bill medication management, peer counseling and supervised visits at his apartment. Recently, Bill completed a Georgia Department of Labor vocational rehabilitation training program and received a certificate of completion. The department is now looking for some part-time employment for Bill.

    There is hope now. Bill has been stable and improving for almost a year now. We hope that his stability and progress continues. None of this would have been possible without the current laws in Georgia that allowed me to get Bill treated.

    In closing, I am a pastor. When this mental illness hit my son, I was angry, upset, confused, in denial, felt guilty, isolated and was scared. I kept asking God “why me, why Bill?” Faith in God helped me stay focused during very difficult times and get my son the help he needed, thanks to current Georgia laws on treatment of the mentally ill.

    Lastly, from all this, I have developed a new ministry called “There is Hope” for families of people with mental illness. You can read about this new ministry at our website.

    It is true that God works all things for His good.

    There is Hope Ministries

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  • A New Approach to Navigating Persistent Mental Illness in Georgia
    on 08/11/11 ( Blog / GA )

    Georgia has launched a "war on recidivism" from incarceration, hospitalization and homelessness among people with severe mental illness with a new program that relies on teams of "community navigation specialists" to support successful living in the community.

    "Open doors to aid mental health care in Savannah" (Savannah Morning News, July 15) reports that the two-year, 34-county pilot project called "Open Doors" will attempt to "assist the region's most chronic recidivists to find a safe place outside of jails or mental health facilities." The hope is to identify the "100 most seriously ill recidivists and find treatment programs and follow-up for them" by the end of November. So far, 29 patients have been screened and 21 enrolled.

    The goal when deinstitutionalization of psychiatric patients began about a half-century ago was to shift individuals from state hospitals to the community. Because the community services that were supposed to support them never were widely implemented, they ended up on the streets, in jails and prisons, and/or prematurely dead. Here's hoping Georgia's pilot does indeed stop the revolving door for its participants and prove successful enough that the state will fund it for more than 100 people.

    Sadly, there will always be individuals in psychiatric crisis who are too ill to volunteer for or participate in programs like this. Court-ordered treatment will remain an essential treatment option for them. For a dramatic illustration of how it can save lives and families, watch our 30-minute documentary, "Stopping the Revolving Door – A Civil Approach to Treating Severe Mental Illness," online now.

    To comment, visit our Facebook page.

    Visit our blog archive to read all our recent posts.


  • ‘What Greater Civil Right?’ – personally speaking
    on 02/23/11 ( Blog / GA )

    “Georgia’s mental health system has wasted years of my son’s life due to the liberal influence of The Georgia Advocacy and similar organizations, who have removed common sense from the treatment of mental illness in the state.

    “My son has never physically harmed anyone. He has never been convicted of a crime. He has never used drugs. At the time of the alleged offense, he was in a psychotic state of mind due to the ineffective treatment he was receiving. He believed a man on the roof was reading his mind.

    “While in this psychotic state of mind, he emotionally traumatized a young woman who feared for her life. He should not be allowed to refuse treatment or to choose the method of treatment after he has been committed to treatment in lieu of a prison sentence.

    “What greater civil right could a victim of mental illness desire or a compassionate community desire for a victim of mental illness than to have his sanity restored by the most effective means available? If a victim of mental illness is not capable of assisting his attorney with his defense, how can he be capable of assisting his doctor with his treatment?”

    Paul L. Dorn Jr. in a letter to
    The Honorable Jerry W. Baxter
    Fulton County Superior Court
    Atlanta, Georgia

  • Mental Illness is an Equal Opportunity Offender
    on 11/23/09 ( Blog / GA )

    Georgia House Speaker Glenn Richardson suffers from depression and recently attempted suicide.  He recently made public his struggles with mental illness.


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