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What factors are considered when someone is held involuntarily?

The basis for holding a person in a Designated Psychiatric Treatment Facility is not a medical model. It is a legal model. The law and the Courts have consistently held that personal freedom is the most important right we possess.

The Court is looking at behaviors that lead you to believe that a person is a Danger to Self, Danger to Others, and/or Gravely Disabled due to a mental disorder. Simply stating the diagnosis without behaviors does not meet the criteria. Simply believing the person is very sick and in need of psychiatric treatment does not meet the criteria. The burden of proof is on the Treatment Facility to show that the person meets the legal criteria to be held involuntarily. The following symptoms and behaviors should be assessed and the information should be presented by the Treatment Facility representative in all hearings.


Behavior Type Behavior Variables
Auditory Hallucinations Is the person telling you they are having auditory hallucinations or does the person appear to be responding to internal stimuli?
When asked if the person is having auditory hallucinations, does the person answer?
If the person answers:
Are the auditory hallucinations sounds or words?
If they are words, is it someone they know?
Are the words saying good things or bad?
Are they commanding the person?
Are they telling the person to hurt self or others?
Are they telling the person to not eat or to not take medications?
Has the person heard the voices in the past?
If so, did the person act on the voices or did the voices cause the person to do anything?
If they do not answer, describe any behaviors that seem to indicate that the person is responding to internal stimuli.
Do the auditory hallucinations help you establish that the person meets the legal criteria of being a Danger To Self, Danger To Others, and/or Gravely Disabled? If so, how?
Delusions What type of delusion is the person having?
How do you know that it is a delusion?
Is the delusion such that it would lead the person to cause harm to self or others?
Has the person had the delusion in the past and has it caused the person to do anything?
Does the delusion prevent the person from providing for food, clothing and/or shelter? If so, how?
Seriousness Of Precipitating Events How serious were the circumstances that brought the person into the hospital?
Who reported this information to you?
Was the situation serious and the person is dismissing it as nothing?
Did something happen physically or was it merely words?
Has the person done similar things in the past?
How does the precipitating event lead you to believe that the person continues to be a Danger to Self, Danger to Others, and/or Gravely Disabled at this time?
Thought Disorders What is the nature and type of the thought disorder?
Have you considered cultural differences?
Is the thought disorder global, does it affect every part of their thinking, or just a selected area?
If it is a selected area, how does it impact on Danger to Self, Danger to Others, and/or Grave Disability?
Recent Discharge From Psychiatric Hospital When was the person last in a psychiatric treatment facility?
What were the circumstances of the release or discharge?
Was the release or discharge against medical advice?
Did the person elope or AWOL from the facility?
Does the person have a pattern of not complying with outpatient treatment plans?
Questions about Lanterman-Petris-Short (LPS) Act
More Mental Health Q&A Topics
Mental Health Basics
Questions about Organization of Mental Health Court
Questions about Lanterman-Petris-Short (LPS) Act
What are the different hearings held under the Lanterman-Petris-Short (LPS) Act
Initial Conservatorship
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