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Should I "Baker Act" My Loved One?

When your loved one struggles with any severe mental health conditions, you may feel at a loss on how to help them. You may urge them to seek help to no avail. It can feel draining to watch a person deteriorate under their mental health disorder. If you’re in the state of Florida, you have an option to initiate an involuntary hold under a law called the Baker Act.

Understanding the Baker Act

The Florida Mental Health Act of 1971, also called the Baker Act, allows doctors, police officers, and family members to help a person in a mental health crisis. Under this law, a person may be involuntarily detained in a mental health facility for 72 hours if they meet the following criteria:

  • They are 18 or older
  • They exhibit symptoms of mental health distress
  • They’re incapable of deciding to seek treatment due to the symptoms of their mental health condition
  • They pose a danger to themselves or others, or they cannot care for themselves to the point of severe neglect

Once a person is Baker Acted, they must receive a mental health evaluation from a qualified mental health professional. Should the patient stabilize, they must be released within 12 hours. If they need involuntary care past the 72-hour mark, a facility administrator must file a petition for involuntary placement with the court. The hearing must happen within five days of the initial hold. Once the court approves the petition, the facility may hold the patient for up to six months.

The Effectiveness of Enacting the Baker Act

You may feel conflicted when deciding whether to Baker Act your loved one. On the one hand, you want to see your loved one get better. On the other hand, they may not be ready to get better.

A study published in Epidemiology and Psychiatric Sciences looked at the effect of stigma stress on recovery for people involuntarily hospitalized. Researchers found that stigma, shame, and self-contempt were the highest predictors of whether a person’s treatment proved effective for the next two years after a patient’s involuntary commitment. The study’s results indicate that patients can potentially receive effective treatment via the Baker Act if they aren’t stigmatized and shamed for their mental health.

With this in mind, you can enact the Baker Act and offer your loved one constant support throughout their involuntary stay. This reduces the likelihood of ineffective treatment. If they’re treated with respect and empowered, your loved one can get better.

In Florida, the Baker Act can provide a temporary solution to help stabilize your loved one. If, however, you can convince your loved one to seek the help they need, they may feel empowered to heal. At The Guest House, we can offer your loved one a safe, cozy environment to work through their mental health. We promote collaborative care, treating your loved one as a whole person with many wellness needs. Our traditional and holistic therapies will approach their mental health from many angles. For more information, call us at (855) 483-7800.