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Hospital Mental Health Care

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Hospital Mental Health Care

Hospital stays for mental health treatment are usually brief, just long enough to resolve the need for 24/7 care.

Types of Hospital Admission for Mental Health Care:

Voluntary Admission...

is when you choose to enter hospital care. Most people want help in a safe place if they are in a mental health crisis. Choice helps you feel more involved and get better value from care.

Learn more about voluntary admission

Who can apply for voluntary hospital admission?

If you choose to be in hospital and the hospital treatment team decides you would benefit from hospital care, you will be admitted if a bed is available.  You can ask for discharge at any time (§ 33-6-206), but if the risk is high and more care is needed, the hospital may begin the commitment process (Title 33, Chapter 6, Part 4).

Involuntary Commitment...

is when you are admitted to hospital for mental health care even though you refuse to go. This action is a serious legal matter that should only be done to protect safety. A multi-step process must be followed to make sure commitment is needed.

The main steps of involuntary commitment are:

Emergency Detention

Emergency Detention (§ 33-6-401/402) is when an officer of the law, licensed doctor, psychologist or qualified crisis worker, takes you into custody to see if you meet standards for commitment.

First Certificate of Need (CON)

IF you appear to have a mental illness AND may need hospital care, a physician, psychologist or crisis worker (Mandatory Prescreening Agent) will do a mental health exam and may complete a first Certificate of Need (CON) (§ 33-6-404) stating that you are at high enough risk to need emergency mental health care in a hospital, even without your consent (§ 33-6-403).

Second Certificate of Need (CON) and Admission

Second Certificate of Need and Admission: After the first Certificate is completed, you are assessed for a second Certificate of Need (§ 33-6-407/408), which may mean going to another hospital for treatment. A senior mental health clinician will do the second exam. If the risk is still high enough for commitment (§ 33-6-403), and you still refuse mental health care, the clinician will complete the Certificate and you will be admitted for up to 5 business days.

Probable Cause Hearing and Commitment

Probable Cause Hearing and Commitment: To be committed to a hospital without consent, court hearings are required at certain points to decide whether the hospital is the least restrictive place for the treatment.

  • If you are admitted, the court is notified within 24 hours (§ 33-6-413).
  • If the court finds that you meet involuntary standards (§ 33-6-403), you may be committed to hospital for up to 5 days for diagnosis, evaluation and treatment.
  • A Probable Cause court hearing (§ 33-6-418/ § 33-6-422) must take place within that time. You, your attorney and the next of kin or guardian must be notified of the hearing. You have the right to a lawyer, either your own or one appointed by the court.
  • At the hearing (§ 33-6-422) the mental health team states the need for treatment. The judge decides whether or not you meet commitment standards and whether to commit you for up to 15 days.
  • If committed, before the 15 days are up there is another hearing to decide whether you should be released or stay in the hospital for a longer time under a Non-Emergency Commitment.
Judicial, Non-Emergency Commitment

Non-Emergency Judicial Commitment (33 Chapter 6 Part 5) is a court order for hospital mental health or substance use disorder treatment for up to six months. Judicial commitment may begin in a hospital after an emergency commitment or when you are in the community.

  • If Judicial Commitment starts from the community a written complaint must be filed with the court by a family member, mental health clinician, officer of the law or certain officials (§ 33-6-504). The complaint states why they feel you should be committed. It will be heard by the court only IF and only if:
    • You have, or appear to have, a mental health disorder
    • AND are at risk of serious bodily harm to self or others
    • AND may need mental health treatment in a hospital.
  • Certificates of Need (CON): The complaint must be filed along with two Certificates of Need (CON) from a physician or psychologist, stating that you pose substantial likelihood of serious harm (§ 33-6-501) and should be committed.
  • Exam Location: For Judicial Commitment, the mental health exam usually takes place at the clinician’s office. If you will not come in, the judge can order the police to bring you.
  • Length of Time: If the Court finds that you meet standards for commitment, the judge will order you admitted to a mental health hospital for up to six months. If not, the Court will dismiss the case and you will be released.
  • Available Suitable Accommodation or ASA (§ 33-6-509): With a non-emergency (judicial) commitment, you cannot be admitted until there is a mental health hospital that can provide a bed and the required treatment. You must wait in the community until a bed is open.
  • Release or Extension: At six months or before, you may be released if the Court decides you no longer pose a serious risk to self or others. If commitment is still needed, another exam and court hearing must be held to decide whether you meet standards for involuntary care and whether the hospital is still the least restrictive place to provide the care.
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