Understanding the Involuntary Commitment Process: Helping Patients Maintain Their Right to Self-Determination

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How long can the state hold someone?

I have a friend who was taken into custody against her will.

[Details removed]
How long can they keep her? She hasn't evinced any suicidal intent since being taken into custody. The 'binder' says, "A person cannot be detained at a short term care facility for more than 72 hours from the time the screening certificate was completed."

But when does the clock start? As of this evening, she'll have been in custody for 72 hours. I don't know that she's even got a completed screening certificate. They haven't told her anything except that she's being admitted to the psychiatric ward. They took away her phone. She gets to use a pay phone, but like most of us all her contact numbers are in her phone.

Jeffrey N Zaun more than 4 years ago


Her treatment and length of hospitalization will depend on her individual situation/condition and whether she is deemed to be a danger to herself or others.

SocialWorker.com more than 4 years ago

You're welcome!

Thank you for your response, I'm glad the article was helpful!

Lauren D more than 5 years ago

Thank you

This is a very compassionate, comprehensive and informative article. My young adult son voluntarily admitted himself to care yesterday, and being an individual on the autism spectrum, "perception" and "understanding" do not always have the same definition for him, although perhaps that's the case with many who struggle with mental illness. In any case, this article was very reassuring for me. I imagine most parents are unfamiliar with the ins and outs of inpatient care. And when it comes to the legal specifics from state to state, it can become even more confusing. I will definitely share this article with the staff at his facility, and with him if deemed appropriate. Thank you so much for what you do and how you do it. I hope this piece reaches many professionals, patients and families, and has the positive impact that it does for me.

Hayley Kamis more than 5 years ago

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