It is always preferable for someone to be hospitalized voluntarily, if possible. Anticipating crisis situations and developing a plan ahead of time may facilitate voluntary hospitalization. Even after an application or petition for involuntary hospitalization has been initiated, formal commitment can be avoided if the person agrees to cooperate with the treatment plan proposed at the deferral meeting held soon after admission to the hospital.
In order for a person to be involuntarily hospitalized, they must meet the Michigan Mental Health Code definition of a "person requiring treatment." A person may be seriously mentally ill and still not fit that definition. The Probate Court, based on statements made by the person initiating the proceedings and by either two physicians or one physician and one clinical psychologist, makes the determination as to whether the individual is a person requiring treatment.
A recent amendment to the Mental Health Code ("Kevin's Law, 2004) allows involuntary outpatient treatment for a person who "as a result of mental illness, is unlikely to voluntarily participate in treatment" and in addition specifies that, "For a judge to order treatment, an individual must have been hospitalized, jailed, imprisoned, or have acted violently within the previous two years."
The Michigan Mental Health Code defines mental illness as "a substantial disorder of thought or mood that significantly impairs judgment, behavior, capacity to recognize reality, or ability to cope with the ordinary demands of life." Mental illness alone, however, is not sufficient to justify involuntary hospitalization. The Mental Health Code defines "person requiring treatment" as follows:
330.1401 "Person requiring treatment" defined; exception. Sec. 1401.
(1) As used in this chapter, "person requiring treatment" means (a), (b), or (c):
a. An individual who has mental illness and who as a result of that mental illness can reasonably be expected within the near future to intentionally or unintentionally seriously physically injure himself or another individual, and who has engaged in an act or acts or made significant threats that are substantially supportive of the expectation.
b. An individual who has mental illness, and who as a result of that mental illness is unable to attend to those of his or her basic physical needs such as food, clothing or shelter that must be attended to in order for the individual to avoid serious harm in the near future, and who has demonstrated that inability by failing to attend to those basic physical needs.
c. An individual who has mental illness, whose judgment is so impaired that he or she is unable to understand his/her need for treatment and whose continued behavior as the result of this mental illness can reasonably be expected, on the basis of competent medical opinion, to result in significant physical harm to himself or herself or others. This individual shall receive involuntary mental health treatment initially only under the provisions of section 434 through 438 of this act.
(2) An individual whose mental processes have been weakened or impaired by a dementia, an individual with a primary diagnosis of epilepsy, or an individual with alcoholism or other drug dependence is not a person requiring treatment under this chapter unless the individual also meets the criteria specified in subsection (1). An individual described in this subsection may be hospitalized under the informal or formal voluntary hospitalization provisions of this chapter if the hospital director considers him or her clinically suitable for hospitalization.
Any person 18 years or older may file a petition/application which asserts that an individual is a person requiring treatment. This may be a family member, friend, mental health worker, police officer, or any adult who has direct knowledge on which to base their assertion that the person requires treatment.
Assisted Outpatient Treatment
What is a Petition for Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT)?
A mentally ill individual who does not comply with his/her treatment plan can deteriorate, lose the ability to make rational decisions, and become dangerous in the future. After a petition is filed, a hearing is set where a Judge would be able to order an individual into Assisted Outpatient Treatment - if he/she demonstrates noncompliance.
Do you have to be a relative to file a Petition for AOT?
No. Any adult (18+ years) may file a petition with the court asserting an individual met the criteria for AOT.
How do you file the petition?
You may file a petition at the Probate Court of the county where the alleged mentally ill individual resides (or in some cases where the individual is found). You will be required to relate specific facts of the individual’s actions. A hearing date will be set in approximately 28 days.
How does the individual find out about the petition?
The individual and the individual’s attorney are personally served. All other interested persons are served by mail.
What happens next?
In short, the Judge makes a decision at the hearing and may issue an Order requiring the individual to obtain "assisted outpatient treatment."
What criteria needs to be met in order to file a petition for AOT? Is it possible to obtain AOT for an individual who is addicted to drugs/alcohol?
An individual would meet the criteria for AOT if:
-They have not participated in treatment recommended by their mental health professional that is necessary to prevent relapse or harmful deterioration of a condition; PLUS within the past 48 months, the individual was in a psychiatric hospital, prison, and/or jail at least twice OR the non-compliance with the recommended treatment is a factor in the individual committing acts, attempts, or threats of serious violent behavior within the past 48 months.
-Drug and/or alcohol addiction IN ADDITION to the above criteria may constitute sufficient reason for AOT under the Mental Health Code.
Does the treating mental health professional get involved?
Yes, the petition MUST indicate the name, address, and phone number of the individuals treating mental health professional.
If the individual is given an AOT that places him/her in the community requiring outpatient treatment, who provides this service?
Community Mental Health Services. They are involved in screening the individual and are also responsible for linking them to the various Community Mental Health satellite offices throughout the county, following up on the treatment, and advising the court if the individual is not meeting the requirements under the AOT order.
What are the costs involved in this process?
There are no filing fees. The State of Michigan and the county are responsible for all costs, with reimbursement for the attorney fee from the individual, if feasible.
Is the individual entitled to an attorney and a jury at these hearings?
Yes. The court will appoint an attorney for the individual unless he/she is privately represented. The individual may make a demand for jury at any time up to the time of the first hearing. If a demand is made, the hearing is adjourned until a jury may be convened.