Determining When An Involuntary Commitment Is Warranted

If you are the caregiver of a mentally ill loved one, then you are likely aware that a serious mental health-related crisis could occur at any time. Mental health crises can certainly be very stressful, and knowing the proper way to handle such a situation can be daunting. Of course in certain situations, having your loved one involuntarily committed is an option, but the entire process can be confusing. Here are some tips for determining when this legal process may be warranted:

Make safety your # 1 priority

Having a person's rights taken away from them in an involuntary commitment process is a big deal, so you want to make absolutely sure that it's only used as an absolute last alternative. If your relative is making threats about personally taking his or her life, or possibly hurting someone else, how can you determine whether they're serious or not? You need to watch the person carefully and determine if he or she is isolative, despondent and irritable. These can be very important indicators that your loved one is in danger. However, even if you're sure that your loved one is serious when making threats, visiting your local magistrate's office isn't necessarily warranted. Making an immediate appointment with a mental health professional can provide your loved one with treatment that can improve his or her mood significantly. 

Another thing to take into consideration is whether or not your loved one has a history of suicide attempts or is currently abusing one or more substances. Either situation increases the likelihood that he or she will follow through with a suicide attempt, so if any threats are made then you should seek help immediately. If an immediate appointment with a mental health professional isn't available, then an IVC may be warranted.

Seek a professional's advice

Depending on where you live, there may be walk-in crisis services available that can take the responsibility off you when it comes to determining whether involuntary commitment is necessary. If there is no clinic in your area offering walk-in services, or immediate mental health treatment isn't available, then there may be mobile crisis services available. Mobile crisis services are available in many areas, and they can come to your location, wherever it may be, and assess the individual in question. The mobile crisis clinician can help you determine what your best course of action is. You can call your local police department or social services office, who can refer you to mobile crisis services.

The involuntary commitment process was created to ensure that mentally ill individuals and those around them remain safe at all times. It is not a process that is intended to be abused, and if you are unsure how to proceed in a certain situation, then by all means seek the advice of a police officer or mental health professional, such as Dr. Stephen Brown & Associates.