Friday, May 09, 2008

A Quest For Answers

Everyday people contact us in a quest to navigate their state’s commitment laws and fractured mental health systems. Many times they are seeking help to get treatment for family members and friends who have stopped taking their medication and who no longer recognize that they are ill. For anyone that has a loved one who may need involuntary treatment at some point, it is imperative to become acquainted with the commitment process now, rather than waiting for a crisis to occur. The illogical and confusing process of commitment is difficult to understand at anytime, let alone during a crisis. One important step is to look up your state’s commitment laws. The more you know about the law in your state the more effectively you will be able to act in a crisis situation.

Learn what forms you will need to fill out and who you will need to contact if a crisis arises. A good place to start is the courthouse in the county where your loved one lives. Many times, the clerk of the court is a great resource for finding out the procedures for filing an involuntary commitment petition in your county. Another resource is your state/local mental health departments. They may have helpful materials that they can provide. Also, the local NAMI chapter in your family member’s area is a great resource. Most of the NAMI members have been in similar situations and can give you the benefit of their experience.

More tips and strategies, including information on preparing for a crisis and creating a CARE kit, are available on our website.