I’m sorry that this is happening to you. I have worked with many families who have faced a similar situation. Your predicament is fairly common. As you noted, the law prohibits forcing someone into treatment unless a case can be made that they are a danger to themselves or to others. Imminent danger standards, make it very difficult for many people to receive help until something happens.
I would recommend becoming educated about your potential options. Start by googling “Georgia and involuntary commitment laws.” You should be able to find good information about civil commitment options in your state. According to my research, for inpatient treatment, an individual would have to meet the following criteria:
- pose an imminent danger to self/others, evidenced by recent overt acts or expressed threats of violence OR are
- unable to care for their own physical health and safety so as to create an imminently life endangering crisis and in need of involuntary treatment.
For outpatient treatment, a person must meet the following criteria:
- based on treatment history or current mental status, requires outpatient treatment in order to avoid imminently becoming an impatient AND
- is unable to voluntary seek or comply with outpatient treatment.
You might try contacting your local mental health crisis team. They may be willing to come to the home, evaluate your mother’s condition and assist her in obtaining treatment.
You should also explore guardianship laws in your state. If possible, consult a guardianship attorney to determine if anything can be done to assist your mother. At 71, it’s possible that she’s experiencing a mix of mania and potentially dementia. Guardianship may be an option.
I would also recommend consulting the local National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) groups in your state. Here is a link to the NAMI organization for your state. NAMI offers free support groups in communities across the country for individuals caring for loved ones with serious mental illness. They can help you to navigate the mental health system. Contact them for support and assistance.
I hope these ideas assist you in helping your mother. Please write again if you have additional questions.
Dr. Kristina Randle