Involuntary Commitment is the admission to a mental health hospital against a person’s will.
When someone with serious mental illness is a danger to themselves or others, a psychiatrist can authorize a 72-hour psychiatric hold where the patient is admitted to the hospital for emergency psychiatric evaluation.
Knowing the civil commitment laws in your state is very important, as Involuntary Commitment is where the mental health system intersects with the legal system (Treatment Advocacy Center). Every state has civil commitment laws, but the standards may change as to what qualifies someone for Involuntary Commitment.
There are some states where a judge may order an individual with mental illness to adhere to a treatment plan while still living in the community. Long-term Involuntary Commitment laws permit psychiatric hospitals to admit a patient with mental illness, without their consent, for an extended amount of time.
Some of the reason individuals may be involuntarily committed are: they are a danger to themselves or others, they are not able to meet their basic needs, or they are extremely disabled (Slobogin, Hafemeister, Mossman & Reisner, 2014).
Professor Christopher Slobogin Interview
Professor Christopher Slobogin is the Milton R. Underwood Chair in Law, Director of the Criminal Justice Program, and Affiliate Professor of Psychiatry at Vanderbilt University. In recognition for his work in mental health law, Professor Slobogin received both the American Board of Forensic Psychology’s Distinguished Contribution Award and the American Psychology-Law Society’s Distinguished Contribution of Psychology and Law Award. Only a total of five law professors have received either of these awards and no one except Professor Slobogin has received both awards. Professor Slobogin has authored more than 100 articles, books, and chapters on topics related to criminal law and procedure and mental health law and evidence, including the book Law and the Mental Health System, Civil and Criminal Aspects, which is currently in its 6th edition. Professor Slobogin’s book Minding Justice: Laws That Deprive People with Mental Disability of Life and Liberty describes the interdisciplinary scholarship of law and mental health, as well as a comprehensive examination of the laws governing the punishment, detention, and protection of people with mental disabilities.
Click the links below to find out more about Involuntary Commitment.