Montana, 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 Montana as "outpatient care." 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.
For both inpatient and outpatient treatment, a person must meet the following criteria:
- be substantially unable to provide for basic needs of food, clothing, shelter, health or safety;
- have recently caused self-injury or injury to others;
- be an imminent danger to self/others; and
- have a mental disorder that will, if untreated, predictably result in such deterioration that the person will meet one or more of the preceding criteria. (Predictability may be established by the respondent's relevant medical history.)
*Civil commitment based solely on the fourth criterion above is made on an outpatient basis only.
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.
House Bill 365 passed out of Judiciary Committee on Feb. 8. The bill would broaden Montana's civil commitment standards by adding criteria for emergency pickup and detention. In addition to imminent danger, a person could be picked up if found to be "substantially unable to provide for (their) own basic needs of food, clothing, shelter, health or safety." The bill can be found online on Montana's legislative website.
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.