Schizophrenia and Commitment: How To Do It

  • In America, it's no secret that the commitment laws are a sham: in most jurisdictions, the hospital staff strictly interpret the admittance criteria: a person must be an immediate danger to himself or others.


    My book review of Crazy by Pete Earley documents this danger of letting individuals decompensate before they get treated: jails become the hospital.


    Three years ago: I talked with the executive director of a local chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).  She suggested you find out whether your local hospital has a Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program (CPEP) like the one at Brookdale Hospital in Brooklyn, NY.

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    Other strategies can be useful to increase the likelihood of admittance:


    If the person has had numerous run-ins with the law, you can get the sheriff or other police officer to tell the hospital staff the individual needs to be admitted not turned away.


    You'll read about a good strategy in my Interview With Paulette Part One and Interview With Paulette Part Two.  She was able to get her son committed because she obtained the professional help of his psychiatrist.  His doctor called ahead to the emergency room while her son was rushed there and told the staff he recommended the son be admitted and not released.


    Absent this, you can claim the person is violent or suicidal.  Yet even with this, individuals have been turned away.  One woman told the staff at a hospital that she was suicidal and they refused to admit her.  She went to another hospital that did admit her.


    Los Angeles County's infamous 72-Hour Hold prompted Bebe Moore Campbell to write a book about the topic, titled 72-Hour Hold.


    The Treatment Advocacy Center has some good advice about how to navigate the psychiatric system:


    Be Prepared For An Emergency and Eliminating Barriers: Tips For Busting Through.


    One woman was able to get her son help using Treatment Advocacy Center strategies.


    Should a person with schizophrenia be violent or if you merely feel afraid of the person because of his or her behavior: you need to take action to protect yourself.  If this leads to a 72-Hour Hold or a commitment or a restraining order, you can deal with the after effect and lack of trust when the person comes out.


    Violence is simply NOT acceptable.


    Document everything you do every step of the way: record in a notebook the dates and times and actions taken, such as police intervention or emergency room observation.


    Before the cops come, tell them the person is experiencing symptoms of schizophrenia.  Ask if a CIT or crisis intervention team can respond.  Like I said, you can enlist the officer to tell the emergency room staff that the individual needs to be admitted.


    The next SharePost will focus on Remission Versus Recovery.  A recent study revealed provider and patient outcomes differ dramatically in terms of the definition of remission.

Published On: July 22, 2012