What Is Involuntary Commitment?
If you choose to enter a mental health institution or facility for treatment of a diagnosed or probable psychological condition, that is referred to as voluntary commitment. When you voluntarily commit yourself to an institution, it means that you have the right to leave whenever you want to.
Involuntary commitment, also referred to as civil commitment, means that the choice to enter a mental facility or other institution was not your own. Rather, a severe situation arose in which it was decided that you represented a danger to yourself and/or others, and that the only way to defuse the threat was to commit you to a mental institution. When you are involuntarily committed, you do not get to decide when you get to leave.
Rationale Behind Involuntary Commitment
By law, officers of the government at any level cannot confine you, detain you, or otherwise deprive you of your liberty without a good reason. Therefore, there are typically very narrow criteria that determine whether you can legally be involuntarily committed. In general, involuntary commitment can only occur when your ability to reason has been so severely impaired by mental illness that you are incapable of making decisions for yourself. Often, though not always, the state must demonstrate that you pose a threat of harm and commitment is the only means of containing the threat. However, the criteria vary from state to state.
Involuntary commitment is different from the 72-hour hold often imposed in emergency medical situations to give psychiatric personnel time to stabilize the patient and assess his or her condition. However, if the stabilization is unsuccessful and the patient still represents a threat, civil commitment may follow a 72-hour emergency hold.
Legalities Related to Involuntary Commitment
The use of involuntary commitment is controversial. Some argue that it is unethical under any circumstances while others assert that sometimes the situation is so severe that it is necessary. A civil commitment order is usually subject to a formal hearing in which the subject is entitled to legal representation, and the court will examine evidence and listen to testimony. Habeas corpus, a legal principle that protects against unlawful imprisonment or detention, may be invoked to challenge an involuntary commitment.
Even when involuntary commitment is deemed necessary, it usually only takes place on a short-term basis. While in the past civil commitment could take place only in an inpatient setting, i.e., within a hospital or institution intended for the purpose, involuntary commitment can also take place on an outpatient basis in which, though confined, the patient remains in the community.
Therapy, medications, and other forms of depression treatment in Palatine, IL may help mental issues from escalating to the point where civil commitment is necessary. Contact an office for more information.
Thanks to Lotus Wellness Center for their insight into counseling and involuntary commitment.