There are few things more difficult than when a loved one is experiencing problems with their mental health. What can you do if they’re having suicidal thoughts or you believe they’re a danger to themselves or others? What if they don’t want help or aren’t even aware that they need help?
The Baker Act provides you with an option
The Baker Act is a Florida law that allows for the involuntary detention and evaluation of a person who is suffering from mental illness. In order for the Baker Act to be used, there must be a reason to believe the individual has a mental illness and they have refused voluntary examination.
There must be a likelihood that their well-being will suffer without proper care. And there must be a substantial likelihood that they will harm either themselves or someone else.
How is the process started?
A court can order the detention and evaluation of any person meeting the Act’s criteria. This means that concerned family members can petition the court and provide a statement that would give the court a basis for issuing its order. Once it does, law enforcement is tasked with detaining the person and delivering them to a mental health facility.
Law enforcement can also act on their own if they personally witness conduct that leads them to believe the person requires Baker Act intervention. In fact, they are required to. As a result, calling the police is also an option when family members are concerned about a loved one.
Finally, a qualified medical professional can instigate the Baker Act procedures if they have evaluated the individual and determined they require treatment.
Balancing the needs of your loved one against their personal rights is not an easy thing to do. If you need help deciding on the best course of action, speak with a professional who is experienced with the Baker Act and Florida law.