Process of getting someone help through involuntary commitment varies by state

Coroner’s office is the first step in Louisiana
Published: Sep. 30, 2021 at 4:56 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 30, 2021 at 8:18 PM CDT

SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) — Sisters of the woman who is accused of throwing two of her children off the Cross Lake bridge, killing one of them, have said that they suspect she’s had mental health issues all of her life.

However, they said, Ureka Black refused help every time her family tried to get it for her.

So what are relatives and friends to do in such situations? That’s where involuntary commitments can come into play.

The process primarily is legislated at the state level. So the steps vary depending upon where you live.

The Treatment Advocacy Center has argued that a family too often must wait for their mentally ill loved one to become an imminent danger to themselves or others before requesting an emergency civil commitment.

The nonprofit has documented and evaluated the standards for and laws regulating involuntary commitments in each state.

On a 100-point scale, the center awards up to 50 points based on the quality of a state’s inpatient commitment law. And up to 50 points are awarded based on the state’s assisted outpatient treatment law.

The nonprofit’s most recent rankings in 2018 gave:

  • Arkansas an A- (91 of 100 points)
  • Louisiana an A- (90 of 100 points)
  • Oklahoma a C+ (79 of 100 points)
  • Texas a C+ (77 of 100 points)

Of the 50 points possible for each state’s inpatient commitment laws:

  • Arkansas earned 48, including 1 extra point because its laws specify in which court a petition for inpatient commitment shall be filed.
  • Louisiana earned 40
  • Oklahoma earned 35, and
  • Texas earned 30.

Click the state’s name to review its most recent report card from the Treatment Advocacy Center:

► Arkansas

► Louisiana

► Oklahoma

► Texas

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