Maine, 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 Maine as "progressive treatment program (PTP)." It is one of the 27 states whose involuntary treatment standard is based on a person’s “need for treatment” rather than only the person’s likelihood of being dangerous to self or others.



Inpatient hospitalization is considered the best available means for treatment of the patient when the court is satisfied with the submitted treatment plan and, based on recent actions or behavior, the person is either:

    • a danger to self/others or;
    • severe physical or mental impairment or injury likely to result without treatment plus determination that suitable community resources for his care and treatment are unavailable

Outpatient treatment (progressive treatment program) is considered when a person meets the following criteria:

  • The person has a severe and persistent mental illness;
  • The person poses a likelihood of serious harm; 
  • The person has the benefit of an individualized treatment plan;
  • Community resources are available to support the treatment plan;
  • The person is unlikely to follow the treatment plan voluntarily;
  • Court-ordered compliance will help to protect the patient from interruptions in treatment, relapses or deterioration of mental health; and
  • Compliance will enable the patient to survive more safely in a community setting without posing a likelihood of serious harm.

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. 


Click here to read the press release. issued when Maine Governor Baldacci signed LD 1360 into law permitting assisted outpatient treatment on April 14, 2010.

For answers to frequently asked questions about Maine's AOT law, click here


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.


Maine News

  • In Memory of Amy Bruce
    on 06/20/11 ( Blog / ME )

    We are thinking today of the Bruce family of Maine, who five years ago this June 20 lost wife and mother Amy Bruce as a result of her son William’s untreated mental illness.

    William’s parents spent years trying the help their son get treatment for his mental illness. Their efforts were stymied by confidentiality laws and patient advocates who argued that William’s freedom outweighed the need for treatment of his paranoid schizophrenia. Shortly after release from one of his many hospitalizations, William struck and killed his mother Amy with a hatchet while she sat at her desk. William told police the Pope had ordered him to kill his mother because she was involved with Al Qaeda.

    Since his wife’s death, William’s father Joe has worked tirelessly to turn the family’s tragedy into a case for better treatment laws and standards in Maine, where Joe continues to live. In 2009, Joe received the Torrey Advocacy Commendation for his efforts. William Bruce was found not guilty by reason of insanity and today is a patient at Riverview Psychiatric Center. With the benefit of treatment, his psychiatric condition has greatly improved.

    “The advocates didn’t protect me from myself,” he said in a 2009 interview. “None of this would have happened if I had been medicated.”

    More about the Bruce story can be found our Winter 2009 issue of Catalyst.

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  • Need for Change in Maine
    on 11/11/09 ( Blog / ME )

    Maine is currently one of only seven states without assisted outpatient treatment (AOT). But there is hope - a bill sponsored by Senator John Nutting (LD 1360) awaits action in the Maine legislature.

  • Protection and Advocacy for Lawyers
    on 09/23/08 ( Blog / ME )

    Imagine lawyers as a protected class who need public support and help.

  • A Death in the Family
    on 08/18/08 ( Blog / ME )

    “William Bruce approached his mother as she worked at her desk at home and struck killing blows to her head with a hatchet,” accounts an August 16, 2008 story in The Wall Street Journal.


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