How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site. Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Norman M. Your Own Question
Norman M.
Norman M., Principal psychotherapist in private practice. Newspaper contributor, over 2000 satisfied clients on JA
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 2568
Experience:  ADHP(NC), DEHP(NC), ECP, UKCP Registered.
Type Your Mental Health Question Here...
Norman M. is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

I am a Psychotherapist in the UK and am very concerned about

Customer Question

I am a Psychotherapist in the UK and am very concerned about a friend who is in the US. It appears that she is having a breakdown and I am very worried about her being a danger to herself. She has threatened suicide twice within the last month and has been behaving very out of character and erratically. Included within this behaviour is granting her ex-husband (who has not long been out of prison) full custody of their young daughter who previously she fought so hard to keep away from him.
On top of this she has also embarked on an extra marital affair and also told her family she has a terminal illness and has only 6 months to live.
I am really concerned that she may harm herself and also about the psychological harm that she is causing everybody who is a part of her life including the young child she has given full custody of to her ex husband but also an infant who although is being cared for by her father (the current husband of the lady in question) as they are all living in the same house.
Please could you provide me with some information as to what help is available. If she were in the UK she would very likely be sectioned and I feel that this could be the best option. She was sectioned around a month or so ago however she was discharged but things seem to have gone from bad to worse.
Please help.
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Norman M. replied 7 years ago.
Hello, aqnd thanks for visiting JA.

Involuntary commital proceedings in the US are broadly similar to the 'sectioning' procedure under the Mental Health Acts in the UK. The actual legislation varies from State to State, but the general requirements (as to inability to take care of herself, risk to herself or to others) are similar overall.

A voluntary committal is when a person 18 years of age or older, or a parent or guardian of a person age 17 or under, applies for admission to a facility for observation, diagnosis or treatment freely and of their own accord

An involuntary Baker Act is when a person is taken to a facility for involuntary examination.

This can only be done when :

There is reason to believe that he or she is mentally ill and because of his or her mental illness and

The person has refused voluntary examination and

The person is unable to determine for himself or herself whether examination is necessary and without care or treatment and the person is likely to suffer from neglect or refuse to care for himself or herself and such refusal could pose a threat of harm to his or her well being; and there is a substantial likelihood that without care or treatment, the person will cause serious bodily harm to himself, herself or others in the near future as evidenced by recent behavior.

A person may not be detained for more than 72 hours.

Are there other conditions?

Yes, a law enforcement officer may take an individual to a facility for evaluation if he has reason to believe that the individual's behavior meets statutory guidelines for involuntary examination.

If a person is willing to swear in a Petition for Involuntary Examination that he has personally witnessed an individual causing harm to themselves or others, an "ExParte" for an Involuntary Examination can be made.

A person may not be detained for more than 72 hours on primary committal

In essence then, either a police officer or another person who is aware of her recent behavior would have to make an application to the Court. Is there any way you could rrange for that to happen?
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
lt;p>Hi,</p><p> </p><p>Many thanks for this information, it is very useful. I will be speaking to her husband later today and will discuss this with him. He will be able to make any arrangements. </p><p>Her husband is falling to pieces at the moment, he has lost 25lbs and is suffering greatly. I have spoken to him and encouraged lots of self care and to focus on his young daughter. Do you have any guidance that I can offer to him? </p><p> </p><p>I am struggling a bit with this as I am personally connected to them and therefore it's very different than with a patient or client.</p><p> </p><p>Thanks again,</p><p> </p><p>Christine</p>
Expert:  Norman M. replied 7 years ago.
Hello Christine - thanks for getting back to me - can you clarify - guidance on what aspect?