There may come a time when the best treatment for your child or teen is in a psychiatric hospital. If your doctor or therapist recommends that your child goes into the hospital, and it is not a mental health emergency, there are several questions you should ask:
The prospect of a psychiatric hospitalization can be very traumatic for the entire family. Having the answers to some of these questions can help.
An involuntary hospitalization is a court order that orders a person to be hospitalized in an inpatient psychiatric facility for the purposes of getting an evaluation. There are laws that regulate who and under what conditions a person can be committed to a hospital. In Colorado, an involuntary commitment may also be referred to as 27-65. In order for a person to be involuntarily hospitalized, he or she must meet the Colorado Revised Statute, Article 10, Title 27 Care and Treatment of Mentally Ill definition of mentally ill. The statute defines "Person with a mental illness":
"Person with a mental illness" means a person with one or more substantial disorders of the cognitive, volitional, or emotional processes that grossly impairs judgment or capacity to recognize reality or to control behavior. Developmental disability is insufficient to either justify or exclude a finding of mental illness within the provisions of this article.
Mental Health Hold
The actual Mental Health Hold may be invoked when a person appears to be mentally ill and because of the mental illness, the person appears to be
"Danger to self or others" means the person shows a serious risk of physical harm to themselves because they’ve made recent threats or attempts at suicide or have purposely harmed themselves.
"Danger others" means the person shows a serious risk of harming another person or persons, as the result of recent threats, homicidal or violent behavior, directed at another person(s).
"Gravely disabled" means a condition where a person, because of their mental illness, is not able to make decisions about or take care of their basic needs without a great deal of help from other people. Because they are unable to make these decisions, they are at risk of harming themselves or becoming seriously ill. A person of any age may be "gravely disabled", but the term does not apply to a person whose decision-making is limited because of a developmental disability
The mental health hold is only for 72 hours, and during the 72 hours, an assessment must be completed. After the assessment is completed, one of three things will happen to the person on a mental health hold:
Colorado law provides that anyone who is 15 or older may seek treatment, with or without the consent of his or her parent or legal guardian. However, the person who provides treatment may, with or without the consent of someone who is 15 or older, inform the parent or legal guardian that the child is receiving services, or needs services.
A child who is younger than 15 who is seeking voluntary hospitalization must have an independent interview. The independent interviewer must be a professional person. They will interview the minor and do an assessment. This assessment includes talking with the parent or legal guardian, school, associated agencies and others. Based on these interviews, the professional will decide whether or not the minor is mentally ill and needs to go into the hospital. In order for the child to be admitted to the hospital on an involuntary status, the evaluation must show that:
If the child is a ward of the Department of Social Services, (DSS) the child must have a Guardian Ad Litem or a petition to appoint one must be filed with the court.
If you, as the parent, believe that being in the hospital is the best treatment for your child, you should encourage your child to sign in voluntarily. If your child is under age 15, you can sign them in voluntarily.