Helping a Loved One During a Mental Health Crisis


D'Amore Can Help You Through A Mental Health Crisis

When a loved one is in the midst of a Mental Health Crisis, it can feel like the world is falling down around you.  It is often difficult to know how to help your friend or family member, especially when they are unwilling to get help voluntarily.  This can make you feel powerless over the situation and even negatively affect your own mental well-being.  In these situations, people often wonder if it is possible to have their loved one admitted to a mental health facility when they are unwilling to get help.  They may see this as the only way to ensure that person’s safety and the safety of everyone around them.   Unfortunately, this is not always a viable option.  But the reasons for this are very positive.  Because people struggling with a mental illness still have access to the same civil rights as everyone else, they cannot be held against their will without just cause.  Furthermore, they have access to patient’s rights that protect them from being given prescription medications or undergoing psychiatric treatment without their consent.  

However, there are exceptions to these rules.  A person can be held against their will and given medications when they have been examined by a medical professional and deemed a danger to themselves or others.  If your loved one is threatening to commit suicide or if they have threatened you or another person, then you can call 911.  If the authorities that respond to the call agree that this person poses a threat to themselves or others, then they will be taken to a hospital or emergency room for further examination.

What Is A 51/50 hold?

You may have heard the term ‘5150’ in conversation referring to someone acting ‘crazy’ without really knowing what it means.  But California Code 5150 can be a very useful tool in helping a loved one through a mental health crisis.  The California Welfare and Institutions Code 5150 states that “When a person, as a result of a mental health disorder, is a danger to others, or to himself or herself, or gravely disabled, a peace officer…may, upon probable cause, take … the person into custody for a period of up to 72 hours for assessment …” 

Once the person is taken to a hospital or psychiatric emergency room, a psychologist or psychiatrist will ask them a series of questions to determine the extent of their danger to themselves or others.  If the team of medical professionals deems the person to be unsuitable for release, they will be taken to an inpatient psychiatric hospital where they will be given medications until they stabilize.

Patients being held on a 5150 hold will often be discharged once the hospital staff determines that they have been stabilized, are on the proper medication, and no longer pose a threat to themselves or others.  However, after this judgment has been made, no one can force the person to continue receiving treatment or taking medication against their will.

On other occasions, after the 72-hour hold has expired, a person is still deemed to be a danger to themselves or others.  In these situations, California Welfare and Institutions Code 5250 can be implemented to hold the person in a psychiatric hospital for another 14 days.  Unlike a 5150 hold, a 5250 hold requires a court hearing.  These Probable Cause Hearings typically take place at the hospital.  During the hearing, the person in question is provided with an attorney.  A court officer will then examine the evidence provided to them by the hospital and make a judgment.  If during this hearing, the court decides to go through with the 5250 hold, the person can be held for the full 14-day period.  However, they may be released earlier if they are determined to no longer pose a threat to themselves or others or if they agree to voluntarily receive mental health treatment.

What Happens Next?

If a physician determines that the patient’s mental health disorder makes them unable to provide for their own basic needs, such as food, shelter, and clothing, they can be recommended for a Conservatorship. 

In these situations, a conservator makes legal decisions for the patient.  They get to decide on what kind of medications the patient will get, what type of treatment they receive, and they will be entrusted to handle the patient’s finances and housing.  

If a patient does not meet the criteria for being assigned a conservatorship, they can be referred to a voluntary treatment program.  The Social Services Department will offer resources to the patient depending on a doctor’s recommendation for care, the patient’s resources, the patient’s desires, and the options available.  Social Services will be in contact with the patient’s loved ones to arrange for their placement and to schedule follow-ups.

If you are looking for a voluntary, residential mental health facility to care for your loved one, D’Amore is here to help.  D’Amore Mental Health is a California Certified, Psychiatric facility for men and women. We specialize in the intervention, acute stabilization and, residential treatment of mental health disorders and co-occurring substance abuse disorders. We are a Joint Commission-accredited, Mental Health Treatment Center located in Orange County, California. We provide specialized treatment for Clinical Depression, Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia, General Anxiety Disorder, and more.

If you or someone you love is in need of mental health treatment, call us today!