Every state in the U.S. has established criteria for determining when court-ordered treatment is suitable for people who aren’t in an appropriate state of mind to seek care on their own. Sadly, many people who are struggling with a severe mental illness do not get the compassionate care they need. In some cases, this results in incarceration.
If someone you care about is struggling with substance abuse or having a mental health emergency, knowing about your options will prepare you to respond effectively and ensure your loved one ends up in caring hands instead.
How Does Involuntary Treatment Work?
Washington’s laws allow for court-ordered assisted outpatient treatment at a state hospital when a person’s behavior puts them in danger of harming themselves or others, or they become too incapacitated to look after their fundamental health and wellness needs.
People receiving court-ordered treatment will remain at a hospital for monitoring and support to ensure their safety. As they become increasingly stable, they will earn more independence based on their progress. Patients considered dangerous to themselves or others will have fewer privileges than those who are improving with their treatment plan.
Discharge planning for each patient begins at the point of admission. A team consisting of specialists like psychiatrists, nurses, substance use counselors, and social workers assesses what is necessary for each person in court-ordered treatment to recover to the point of being ready to leave.
What Happens During Court-Ordered Treatment?
During an initial holding period, each person receives an evaluation of their mental and physical health and a substance abuse screening from a county-designated mental health professional.
After the preliminary assessment, health care workers such as a physician or psychiatric nurse practitioner can file a petition asking the court to assign a patient to no more than 14 additional days of involuntary intensive treatment or 90 days of a less restrictive alternative. They will only do so if they have analyzed the person’s condition and are prepared to testify that it could lead to further harm or disability.
Someone assigned to the less restrictive option must enter outpatient treatment as dictated by the court order, which will specify where they will participate in their recommended programming and any prescribed medications they should take. It may also stipulate where they live – for instance, at home or in a residential facility. The goal is to stabilize each patient to allow them to return to their community as quickly as possible.
Solutions-Focused Therapy With an Accredited Provider
At Lakeside-Milam Recovery Centers, we provide a discreet, convenient mental health outpatient program for people living with conditions like depression, anxiety, and trauma. To ensure you receive the highest-quality care, a master’s-level therapist will oversee your treatment plan, offering evidence-based therapies. While we’ve specifically designed our programming for those in recovery from substance use disorders, it is open to everyone, and all our outpatient locations are accepting new clients.