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Grounds for Involuntary Mental Health Treatment in Illinois

Article written by Illinois & Iowa Attorney Kevin O'Flaherty
Updated on
October 28, 2019

In this article we explain the grounds for involuntary mental health treatment in Illinois, including: “who can be involuntarily committed to a mental health facility in Illinois?”, “under what circumstances can a person be involuntarily committed in Illinois?”, and “what to do if you know someone that needs involuntary mental health care.

Who Can Be Involuntarily Committed to a Mental Health Facility in Illinois?

Only those who have been diagnosed with a “serious mental illness” and refuse care can be involuntarily admitted to a hospital or facility for mental health.  For more specific information, see our article entitled Definition of Serious Mental Illness for Involuntary Treatment in Illinois. Only approximately five percent of the population of Illinois has a mental health illness that falls into this category.  If you do qualify, there are only two ways to be involuntarily admitted to a mental health facility; by court order, or by emergency certification.  To learn more, see our article entitled Involuntary Admission to a Mental Health Facility.

Under What Circumstances Can a Person be Involuntarily Committed in Illinois?

Involuntary admission is considered a last resort, as forcing someone to take medication against his or her own will borders on a violation of liberty.  If an individual with a mental illness is in jeopardy of hurting themselves or someone else as a direct result of their illness, a judge might rule in favor of involuntary admittance, thinking that inpatient care is the best way to help the afflicted and keep everyone safe.  Be it by judge or doctor, inpatient care needs to seem like the best option before involuntary admission is considered.  As a general rule of thumb, the least extreme course of action should be taken whenever possible.  The final way a person could be involuntarily committed is if they have been diagnosed with a serious mental illness and cannot or will not adhere to the treatment plan they have been instructed to follow.

What to Do if You Know Someone That Needs Involuntary Mental Health Care

If you think someone close to you is in need of care but won’t accept it, try talking to them about it.  Perhaps you could get in touch with at least one of the doctors assessing and caring for your loved one, and ask if there’s anything you can do to help.  Sometimes a little encouragement from someone they know and trust can help to steer them down a better path.  If it is an emergency, do not hesitate to take the patient straight to the hospital for immediate care.

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Under What Circumstances Can a Person be Involuntarily Committed in Illinois?

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