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Date of last update: 8/24/2017.

Forum Name: Psychiatric Topics

Question: what does it take to get sectioned?

 rated_2006 - Tue May 29, 2007 10:56 am

what does it take for the mental health team to actually section someone? does it have to be quite an extreme case to be taken away?
 Dr. Chan Lowe - Tue May 29, 2007 2:18 pm

User avatar The specific laws regarding this vary from state to state and country to country. In general there are two main criteria that can allow someone to be admitted against their will. These are: 1) the person is a danger to him/herself. (I.e. if a person is stating they are going to commit suicide they can be admitted to keep them from doing this). 2) a person is a danger to someone else.

The exact definition of danger also varies some. Generally if someone is admitted for one of these reasons they can only be held for a limited amount of time during which they must receive a medical/psychiatric evaluation to see if they need to remain hospitalized. If they do need to stay in the hospital and are unwilling to do so on their own, a court-order is sometimes obtained to allow the medical team to keep the person hospitalized until they are safe to go.

I hope this helps answer your question.

Best wishes.
 angelkt - Tue May 29, 2007 4:15 pm

thats interesting-I have also wondered this and also the same but in the case of anorexia...
 Dr. K. Eisele - Wed May 30, 2007 12:18 am

User avatar Dear rated 2006 and angelkt:

There is also another condition for which one may admitted against one's will. That situation is that in which the individual is unable to care for his/her needs due to psychiatric illness. In this situation, the individual is said to be gravely disabled. When one is gravely disabled, they are indeed dangerous to themselves by not being able to adequately care for their basic needs. This would include refusal to consume adequate nutrition so as to maintain their health.
 angelkt - Thu May 31, 2007 9:32 am

oh really that is interesting I never knew that...thanks.
 leapfrogger - Tue Jan 01, 2008 2:29 am

Don't mean to hijack the thread but reading over the posts got me thinking.

Does this same thing apply to someone with multiple chronic physical illnesses along with major psychatric illness (schizophrenia) who wish to opt out on medical treatment?
I ask because I have several medical issues that are chrnoic and schizophrenia. I am not being treated on a regular basis for neither at this point because I have just got to a point where I understand one of these things will likely be the result of my death and that continuing medical treatment will only add buy me quantity of life not quality. I am not as stable as I could be but I don't feel my reality is distorted to a degree that would make my decision making competense questionable. But lets say someone wanted to argue I was not mentally competent to make this decision what would be the likely outcome? Would they force mental health treatment until I was considered competent and then reevaluate or what?

Also if one has a legal document made while in a state thats deemed mentally stable stating I do not wish to recieve any medical care what so ever, will this be abided by in the event I do end up in an incompetent state? I understand in such situations such as suicide attempts these legal documents are not abided by but Im just wondering in non self injurious type medical care situations.

I guess it just seems most people are quick to question competence right off with me or anyone making this type of decision. Good to know for future sake.
 Dr. K. Eisele - Sun Jan 06, 2008 9:11 pm

User avatar Dear Leapfrogger:

Very good question! Everyone has the right to refuse medical treatment, unless they are mentally unstable and their choice is being driven by the mental illness.

In such situations where I have been called to make this kind of evaluation, if the person can understand the nature of the care they are refusing, the consequences of agreeing to that care and of refusing the care, then I look next into why they have made their choice. If they are depressed, are they simply looking for suicide? If they are psychotic, are they simply obeying auditory hallucinations? Are the auditory hallucinations, if present, so disturbing that they want to end their life?

If it seems that the person is refusing medical care because of one the above reasons, then it is my job to either persuade the individual to undergo the medical treatment, or file a petition with the court to commit that person to inpatient psychiatric care until such time as they are able to make an informed decision.

I don't always like this part of my job, but it is all about safety. If you were tormented by voices telling you to refuse treatment for a terminal illness because you didn't really have that illness, but in reality you did have that illness, it would be criminal to allow you to die simply because the voices were lying.

I would think that that a document drawn up while you are mentally competent stating your wishes should be followed in any case. You will definitely want it witnessed by the most stable person who knows you well, and then have it notarized.

Good luck to you!
 leapfrogger - Fri Jan 11, 2008 10:03 pm

Thank you for answering, I think I get this jist of it... I guess when it comes down to it there are many ways for a psychatrist to prove a person is unstable but no guarenteed way for someone with a psychotic disorder to prove they arent.
Competense vc competense the psychatrist will win every time due to credibility lol.
And I'm not saying they are not correct because a lot of people with mental illness it is hard to judge their own level of functioning accurately. Even still though I trust my own decisions and opinions more then any other persons... professional or not. Thats human nature I guess.

Anyways, thank you again.

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