In this article, we explain the definition of serious mental illness for involuntary treatment in Illinois. We answer the questions: “how is ‘serious mental illness’ defined in Illinois?”, “what illnesses are considered a ‘serious mental illness’ in Illinois?”, and “when is a person with a serious mental illness subject to involuntary admission to a mental health facility in Illinois?”
In order for a mental illness to be considered “severe,” several conditions must be met. Serious mental illness is defined by considering the diagnosis, disability and duration the afflicted has been experiencing symptoms. There are specific disorders that are considered “serious” or “severe” mental illnesses, but having one of these disorders does not necessarily mean it should be defined as “serious.”
In Illinois, all illnesses listed in the most current edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM), published by the American Psychiatric Association, are defined as serious. This list includes, but is not limited to the following:
You can find a complete list of disorders from the DSM by clicking here.
Involuntary commitment and treatment for a serious mental illness is only used as a last resort for people who have been diagnosed and refuse care. There are many laws and procedures that must be followed to admit a patient against his or her will, and those procedures must be completed every 90 days to ensure the patient is reevaluated frequently. To qualify for involuntary treatment by court order, evidence must be brought before the court which proves that the respondent does indeed have a mental illness and poses an imminent threat to themselves or to others. If the patient is admitted in an emergency, he or she will go through the emergency certification process if deemed necessary by the attending physician. For more information, see our article entitled Involuntary Commitment to a Mental Health Facility in Illinois.