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 Ill give you a 51/50

Mental Health Services Consumer: COOL I can see Van Halen… Ill take the 51/50!

Title: 72 Hour Evaluation, Do You Know Your Rights?

5150 (Involuntary psychiatric hold)

Contesting the hold

UPDATE: Published on:Nov 3, 2010 – Updated Jan 3, 2020

5150refers to the California law code for the temporary, involuntary psychiatric commitment of individuals who present a danger to themselves or others due to signs of mental illness

[polldaddy poll=0] 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.

Section 5150 is a section of the California Welfare and Institutions Code which authorizes a qualified officer or clinician to involuntarily confine a person suspected to have a mental disorder.


Section 5150 is a section of the California Welfare and Institutions Code the (LantermanPetrisShort Act or “LPS”) which authorizes a qualified officer or clinician to involuntarily confine a person suspected to have a mental disorder that makes them a danger to themselves, a danger to others, or gravely disabled. ~ Wikipedia

(5150 hold /72 hour hold /psychiatric hold)

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In the article Understanding Choices: Mental Health Care is Available in Varied Forms,John M. Grohol, Psy.D.says about72 hour hold:

“In ever rarer circumstances, a persons inpatient care will be mandated by a doctor or a police officer. This mandate, referred to asinvoluntary commitment bymany, most often refers to the 48-72 hour evaluation period a hospital can hold you. This period is most often used to evaluate, assess, and treat people who are actively suicidal or homicidal. While nobody wants to be held against their will or wishes, the alternative is more deaths through successful suicides.” ~ Psych Central Understanding Choices Mental Health Care

In February 2014 the Research from the Treatment Advocacy Center published an interesting report on manysubjects including “Involuntary Commitment.” The reportisavailable for download via PDF HERE. Title: Mental Health Commitment Laws, A Survey of the States

THE USE OF INVOLUNTARY TREATMENT LAWS In 2013, there were an estimated 7.7 million people in the United States living with bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. Approximately 3.3 million were untreated at any given time. Civil commitment laws exist i

n every U.S. state and throughout the world as a mechanism both to improve the well-being of those whose untreated symptoms are a demonstrable threat to their own well-being and to promote the safety of the public. ~ Research from the Treatment Advocacy Center

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 disabilityas noted below. The conditions must exist under the context of a mental illness.

    1. 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).

  1. Danger to others: The person must be an immediate threat to someone else’s safety.
  2. Gravely disabled:
    1. 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
    2. , clothing, or shelter is not dispositive; the inability must be caused by the psychiatric condition.
    3. 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 directlyfor example, a psychotic adolescent who refuses to eat because he/she believes his/her parents are poisoning them.

Mental Health Americarecognizes that there are limited circumstances when involuntary commitment must be used as a last resort. Even in such circumstances,MHA believes that involuntary treatmentis only appropriate for a very small subset of people. Whe

n involuntary treatment is used, it should be based on the following principles and understandings which are designed to ensure that the rights of persons with mental health conditions are protected”

  1. Presumption of Competency.

  2. Declaration of Incompetency.

  3. Informed Consent.

  4. Standard. Serious Risk of Physical Harm to Themselves or Others in the Near Future.

  5. Least Restrictive Alternative.

  6. Procedural Protections.

If youre feeling suicidal, Please reach out to the Crisis Line. The toll-free number is: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or call 911 for support.