Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Making The Ilinois Mental Health System Work For You

In my previous post I talked about the definition of a mental illness and the fact that thousands in every community are being successfully treated.  The question becomes more difficult when and individual is either unwilling or incapable of accepting the need for treatment.  What can be done then?  And who can do whatever it is that can be done?

Here's the answer. 

(405 ILCS 5/3-701) (from Ch. 91 1/2, par. 3-701)
      Sec. 3-701. (a) Any person 18 years of age or older may execute a petition asserting that another person is subject to involuntary admission on an inpatient basis. The petition shall be prepared pursuant to paragraph (b) of Section 3-601 and shall be filed with the court in the county where the respondent resides or is present.     (b) The court may inquire of the petitioner whether there are reasonable grounds to believe that the facts stated in the petition are true and whether the respondent is subject to involuntary admission. The inquiry may proceed without notice to the respondent only if the petitioner alleges facts showing that an emergency exists such that immediate hospitalization is necessary and the petitioner testifies before the court as to the factual basis for the allegations.     (c) A petition for involuntary admission on an inpatient basis may be combined with or accompanied by a petition for involuntary admission on an outpatient basis under Article VII-A.
(Source: P.A. 96-1399, eff. 7-29-10; 96-1453, eff. 8-20-10.)

So anyone 18 years of age or older can attempt to get someone the mental health help they need.  The petition is normally presented at the emergency room of a hospital where the subject has been taken for help.  Family members can usually get their local ambulance to transport the subject if they know its for a mental health reason and that a petition will accompany the subject to the hospital.

There are however three possible reasons for hospitalization, one or more of which need to be met before hospitalization will occur.  The first two are; 

(1)   A person with mental illness who because of his or her illness is reasonably expected, unless treated on an inpatient basis, to engage in conduct placing such person or another in physical harm or in reasonable expectation of being physically harmed;

(2)   A person with mental illness who because of his or her illness is unable to provide for his or her basic physical needs so as to guard himself or herself from serious harm without the assistance of family or others, unless treated on an inpatient basis; or

These first two reasons had been the law of the land for maybe 25 plus years until a significant change around 2008.  In fact they were in place for so long that many of today's practitioners may not know or understand that a third reason now exists.  The third reason is; 

(3)   A person with mental illness who:
            (i) refuses treatment or is not adhering adequately to prescribed treatment;
            (ii) because of the nature of his or her illness, is unable to understand his or her need for treatment; and
            (iii) if not treated on an inpatient basis, is reasonably expected, based on his or her behavioral history, to suffer mental or emotional deterioration and is reasonably expected, after such deterioration, to meet the criteria of either paragraph (1) or paragraph (2) of this Section.

In determining whether a person meets the criteria specified in paragraph (1), (2), or (3), the court may consider evidence of the person's repeated past pattern of specific behavior and actions related to the person's illness.

So, in essence the three reasons are (1) serious identifiable threat to harm self or others, (2) an inability to care for ones self without significant help and oversight of another to keep one safe or, (3) an identified and untreated mental illness that is expected to deteriorate to the point that either 1 or 2 above would become probable.  Plus, we can now introduce past known mental health issues that are thought to be related to the persons current condition.  No longer are we hand cuffed to the last 72 hour time frame to prove a problem exists.

Reason 3 is a significant change for the positive if people know about it and understand it.  Sadly many people (and professionals) are unaware and simply throw their hands up in the air when faced with a person suffering from a mental illness who does not want treatment of who is failing to comply.

Part 3 of this series will cover obtaining a court order for treatment and a court order for medication use.

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