Mental Health Services Consumer: Wow, So, signing these voluntary admission papers will get me a 3 day vacation for FREE?!
Psychiatrist: Either you sign them or I’ll give you a 51/50
Mental Health Services Consumer: COOL I can see Van Halen… I’ll take the 51/50!
Title: 72 Hour Evaluation, Do You Know Your Rights?
5150 (Involuntary psychiatric hold)
Contesting the hold
The person under a 5150 hold has a limited ability to contest the legality of the hold. While the person has the right of demanding a writ of habeas corpus, the decision of whether to file it lies with the county public defender. Since such a writ may take a day or two to file, the public defender usually chooses not to pursue it, as the hold would expire before the anticipated court date.
The criteria for writing requires probable cause. This includes danger to self, danger to others together with some indication, prior to the administering of the hold, of symptoms of a mental disorder, and/or grave disability—as noted below. The conditions must exist under the context of a mental illness.
- Danger to self: The person must be an immediate threat to themselves, usually by being suicidal. Someone who is severely depressed and wishes to die would fall under this category (though they generally have to have expressed a plan to commit suicide and not just a wish to die).
- Danger to others: The person must be an immediate threat to someone else’s safety.
- Gravely disabled:
- Adult (patients over 18 years of age): The person’s mental condition prevents him/her from being able to provide for food, clothing, and/or shelter, and there is no indication that anyone is willing or able to assist him/her in procuring these needs. This does not necessarily mean homeless, as a homeless person who is able to seek housing (even in a temporary shelter) when weather demands it would not fall under this category. Also, the mere lack of resources to provide food, clothing, or shelter is not dispositive; the inability must be caused by the psychiatric condition.
- Minor (patients under 18 years of age): The person is unable to provide for his/her food, clothing, and/or shelter or to make appropriate use of them even if these are supplied directly—for example, a psychotic adolescent who refuses to eat because he/she believes his/her parents are poisoning them.