The United States has many laws in place to help ensure citizens are healthy and safe. The Baker Act mental health law is useful when people are struggling with depression, anger, aggression or other symptoms of mental break down. It keeps the person safe for a period of time while evaluations are made. The Baker Act mental health hospitalization means that a person can be involuntarily committed to hospital or psychiatric facility against their will for a period of time, usually 72 hours.
During this time psychiatric and medical evaluations are performed. Medications may be introduced. The patient’s mental health and ability to function in society are determined. A decision is then made as to if the patient is a danger to themselves or others or not. If it is determined that they are safe to be released, they are free to go. Recommendations for medication and follow up treatment, including therapy or drug treatment is typically given. If it is determined that the patient is unable to return to their life without supervision, or that they are still a threat to themselves or others, arrangements will be made for further hospitalization at the end of the evaluation period.
A Baker Act mental health hospitalization can be placed on someone in a variety of ways. The first way, is when someone commits themselves for evaluation. If you feel that you need help for a mental illness, you can transport yourself to a hospital or treatment facility. Simply tell the staff that you fear you are a danger to yourself or others and ask to be Baker Act mental health hospitalized. If you don’t have a way to get to the hospital or facility, call 911, state that you are afraid you may harm yourself others and ask for the police department or ambulance to transport you. The Baker Act mental health hospitalization is not a criminal charge, so there is no need to worry about getting help.
Imposed by Others
A spouse, parent or family member can request a loved one receive a Baker Act mental health hospitalization. They need to be able to provide reasonable and valid reasons for their concerns that the person could harm themselves or others. If the mentally unstable individual is unwilling to voluntarily go to the hospital for treatment, a call to 911 will bring police officers. If the police officers determine the person is a danger to themselves or others they will forcibly bring them to the hospital or treatment facility for evaluation. This will likely mean the person is handcuffed and put in the back of a police car. This is for their safety and is not an arrest.
A doctor or psychiatrist can recommend a person be Baker Acted. This may be in reaction to comments the patient makes during a therapy session. Talk of suicide, violence or self harm could result in medical personal ordering a Baker’s Act.
Tips and comments
It is very difficult to get a Baker’s Act removed once it is put in place until the 72 hour evaluation period is over. Do not request one unless you are willing to go through with it.
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