How is “Serious Mental Illness” Defined in Illinois?

Definition of Serious Mental Illness for Involuntary Treatment in Illinois

Video by Attorney Kevin O'Flaherty
Article written by Illinois Attorney Kevin O'Flaherty
Updated on
September 17, 2019

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?”

How is “Serious Mental Illness” Defined 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.”

What Illnesses Are Considered a “Serious Mental Illness” in Illinois?

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:

  • Schizophrenia
  • Paranoid and other psychotic disorders
  • Major depressive disorders (single episode or recurrent)
  • Bipolar disorders (hypomanic, maniac, depressive and mixed)
  • Schizoaffective disorders (bipolar or depressive)
  • Pervasive developmental disorders
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorders
  • Depression in childhood and adolescence
  • Panic disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorders (acute, chronic, or with delayed onset)
  • Eating disorders

You can find a complete list of disorders from the DSM by clicking here.

When is a Person with a Serious Mental Illness Subject to Involuntary Admission to a Mental Health Facility in Illinois?

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.

Contact us for an appoinment

Additional Financial Considerations
from Financial Experts

From Financial Experts

For many years, financial institutions have been creating a disservice to clients and the industry as a whole for years.
View More Professional Considerations

Presented By O'Flaherty Law

O'Flaherty Law is happy to meet with you by phone or at our offices in Downers Grove, Elmhurst, Naperville, St. Charles, Lake in the Hills and Tinley Park, Illinois.

What to Expect From a Consultation

The purpose of a free consultation is to determine whether our firm is a good fit for your legal needs. Although we often discuss expected results and costs, our attorneys do not give legal advice unless and until you choose to retain us. Although most consultations are complimentary, some may carry a charge depending on the type of matter and meeting location.

Leave a Comment With Your Questions

Read more about

Mental Health

Disclaimer: Our articles and comment responses do not constitute legal advice and are not intended to create an attorney-client relationship.

Please contact us to schedule a free consultation for legal advice specific to your situation.

Here are some articles that may interest you