Illinois, 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 Illinois as "involuntary admission on an outpatient basis."



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

  • be a reasonable expectation of danger to self/others
  • be unable to provide for basic physical needs so as to guard against serious harm without the assistance of others, OR
  • refuse or not adhere to treatment, unable to understand need for treatment, and, if not treated, reasonably expected to suffer mental or emotional deterioration and become dangerous and/or unable to provide for basic physical needs

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

  •  in the absence of outpatient treatment, meet criteria for inpatient commitment; and outpatient treatment can only be reasonably ensured through court order; or
  •  mental illness left untreated reasonably expected to result in qualification for inpatient commitment, and has more than once caused the person to refused needed outpatient care

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.


Illinois News

  • Why Use a Sledgehammer When A Scalpel Will Do?
    on 12/18/09 ( Blog / IL )

    In 2008, Illinois enacted sweeping reform of its civil commitment standards. The old criteria, limiting commitment to people with mental illness posing an imminent danger to themselves or others, were expanded to get help to those who, while not violent or suicidal at the moment, are unable to provide for their own basic physical needs, or are unable to understand their need for treatment and can reasonably be expected to suffer continued deterioration and engage in dangerous conduct in the future.

  • When Good Policy Is Taken to Absurd Extremes
    on 11/13/09 ( Blog / IL )

    Here, apparently, is what passes in some quarters for an ethical dilemma:

  • Preparing for a Crisis
    on 09/22/09 ( Blog / IL )

    Everyday people contact us in their quest to navigate the mental health system.

  • Treatment laws vary by state
    on 02/08/08 ( Blog / IL )

    The publicity of Britney Spears’ recent involuntary hospitalization and subsequent release is raising awareness about involuntary treatment laws.


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