It is always preferable for someone to be hospitalized voluntarily, if possible. Anticipating crisis situations and developing a plan ahead of time may facilitate voluntary hospitalization. Even after an application or petition for involuntary hospitalization has been initiated, formal commitment can be avoided if the person agrees to cooperate with the treatment plan proposed at the deferral meeting held soon after admission to the hospital.
In order for a person to be involuntarily hospitalized, they must meet the Michigan Mental Health Code definition of a "person requiring treatment." A person may be seriously mentally ill and still not fit that definition. The Probate Court, based on statements made by the person initiating the proceedings and by either two physicians or one physician and one clinical psychologist, makes the determination as to whether the individual is a person requiring treatment.
A recent amendment to the Mental Health Code ("Kevin's Law, 2004) allows involuntary outpatient treatment for a person who "as a result of mental illness, is unlikely to voluntarily participate in treatment" and in addition specifies that, "For a judge to order treatment, an individual must have been hospitalized, jailed, imprisoned, or have acted violently within the previous two years."
The Michigan Mental Health Code defines mental illness as "a substantial disorder of thought or mood that significantly impairs judgment, behavior, capacity to recognize reality, or ability to cope with the ordinary demands of life." Mental illness alone, however, is not sufficient to justify involuntary hospitalization. The Mental Health Code defines "person requiring treatment" as follows:
330.1401 "Person requiring treatment" defined; exception. Sec. 1401.
(1) As used in this chapter, "person requiring treatment" means (a), (b), or (c):
a. An individual who has mental illness and who as a result of that mental illness can reasonably be expected within the near future to intentionally or unintentionally seriously physically injure himself or another individual, and who has engaged in an act or acts or made significant threats that are substantially supportive of the expectation.
b. An individual who has mental illness, and who as a result of that mental illness is unable to attend to those of his or her basic physical needs such as food, clothing or shelter that must be attended to in order for the individual to avoid serious harm in the near future, and who has demonstrated that inability by failing to attend to those basic physical needs.
c. An individual who has mental illness, whose judgment is so impaired that he or she is unable to understand his/her need for treatment and whose continued behavior as the result of this mental illness can reasonably be expected, on the basis of competent medical opinion, to result in significant physical harm to himself or herself or others. This individual shall receive involuntary mental health treatment initially only under the provisions of section 434 through 438 of this act.
(2) An individual whose mental processes have been weakened or impaired by a dementia, an individual with a primary diagnosis of epilepsy, or an individual with alcoholism or other drug dependence is not a person requiring treatment under this chapter unless the individual also meets the criteria specified in subsection (1). An individual described in this subsection may be hospitalized under the informal or formal voluntary hospitalization provisions of this chapter if the hospital director considers him or her clinically suitable for hospitalization.
Any person 18 years or older may file a petition/application which asserts that an individual is a person requiring treatment. This may be a family member, friend, mental health worker, police officer, or any adult who has direct knowledge on which to base their assertion that the person requires treatment.