When someone you love clearly suffers from poor mental health, it can be frightening to watch. You want to help but you may not be able to convince them to let you. The Baker Act provides a chance to legally force a person into a qualified facility to be evaluated. From there, a proper diagnosis of their mental health can be conducted. But what happens after The Baker Act? We explore your options for helping your loved ones get the help they need.
What Is The Baker Act?
The Baker Act is a Florida law that addresses people who need urgent mental health care. It was sponsored by former Florida representative Maxine Baker in 1972. The law allows families and other loved ones to seek and receive emergency mental health services for someone. This proves helpful when a person is unable or unwilling to recognize they need help for their mental illness, and their lives have spun out of control because of it. It should be used when all other avenues have been exhausted.
The Baker Act allows mental health professionals, doctors, and judges to make the decision to commit a person to a facility to be examined. They can be held for up to 72 hours. This allows the mental health professionals time to examine the individual and determine their full condition. If they decide the person does not present a danger to themselves or others, they will be released.
What Criteria Must Be Met For Using the Baker Act?
Specific criteria must be met in order for The Baker Act to come into play. This is to prevent potential abuse of the system and ensure the person that is the focus of attention does not suffer needlessly. The Baker Act is meant to use for a person who no longer has self-control because of poor mental health.
The criteria for using the Baker Act includes:
- The person is mentally ill.
- They refuse to participate voluntarily in a mental health evaluation or believe they do not need one.
- They prove to be a threat to themselves or someone else.
- They are incapable of taking care of themselves.
Additionally, a person can take advantage of the Baker Act on a volunteer basis. This allows them to obtain the services provided to others but can be easier because the person enters the program willingly. What happens after The Baker Act depends on the outcome of using it.
Signs and Symptoms of Poor Mental Health
When a person suffers from poor mental health, there are often certain signs and symptoms. Sometimes it can be hard for the person to see them, but it can also be difficult when loved ones don’t know what to look for. Emotional signs and symptoms of someone struggling with a mental illness include:
- Feeling depressed
- Anxiety or panic attacks
- Acting aggressively
- Difficulty thinking or concentrating
- Constantly worrying or feeling scared
- Feelings of guilt
- Difficulty relating to and communicating with people
- Suicidal thoughts or actions
Physical signs and symptoms of mental illness include:
- Sleeping too little or too much
- Low energy
- Changes in appetite or weight
- Lower libido
- Unexplained aches and pains
- Digestive issues
- Withdrawing from friends and family
- Loss of interest in hobbies and pastimes
- Using or abusing alcohol or drugs
Steps For Using The Baker Act
There are a a couple of approaches to using the Baker Act. First, if a person is acting irrationally due to mental illness, law enforcement officers can step in. The loved one can call the police and report the situation. This will include if the person seems detached from reality and unable or unwilling to help themselves. Additionally, they can let the police know if the person constitutes a threat to themselves or others. Law enforcement officers can come out and attempt to transport the person to a facility for assessment.
Another option is to petition the court to use The Baker Act in relation to the individual. Several mental health facilities qualify as places a court will order the person to be sent in order to assess their mental health. The petition can be filed at the Clerk of Court office in the county in which the person resides.
Find Mental Health + Addiction Treatment in Tampa
Life with poor mental health limits a person. They often find it hard to take care of themselves and to live a full life. Tampa Bay Recovery Center has several options for proven treatment for mental illness. Our outpatient plans teach you to understand exactly what your mental health diagnosis is and how to treat it. From there, better mental health is in your grasp. Visit our admissions page to find out how our programs work. We can answer any questions you have.