Involuntary Mental Health Treatment

Involuntary Mental Health Treatment

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Involuntary Commitment?

This is the process used in a probate court to help a person who may be mentally ill and harmful to self or others and refuses to seek treatment or whose judgment is so impaired they do not understand their need for treatment.

How do I know if a person is mentally ill?

Watch the person's behavior carefully. If the behavior only occurs when the person has been taking drugs or using alcohol, the problem could be substance abuse, not mental illness.
However, if the behavior is continuous, and if the person threatens or actually harms themselves or others, or their judgment is so impaired that they do not understand their need for treatment, you may file a petition with the Probate Court where the person resides or is found. The Probate Court judge can order the person to be evaluated and, based on medical evaluations and testimony, can order the person to be treated for mental illness.
If you need more information about getting help for someone who may need mental health treatment, call the Detroit-Wayne Integrated Health Network (DWIHN)at (313) 833-2500 or visit their website at

Who should I call?

If you need more information about getting help for someone who may need mental health treatment, call the Detroit-Wayne Integrated Health Network (DWIHN)at (313) 833-2500 or visit their website at

What if the person needs an immediate evaluation?

You can complete a Petition for Mental Health Treatment, pcm201 (include the mc505 and mc97 form). There is no fee. You will need to complete the form accurately, including your observations of the person’s behavior, and request that a peace officer take the individual into protective custody and transport the individual to the hospital.
Petitions can be filed by email anytime and will be processed during normal business hours. See this page for filing instructions.

What happens next?

After your Petition is accepted and processed, you will then have a hearing via Zoom in front of a Probate Judge. You will need to appear at the hearing or your petition will be dismissed. Please see this page for more Zoom hearing information.
If the Judge signs the Order for Examination/Transport to authorize a psychiatric evaluation, you will receive via email all of the completed paperwork. You will then call 911 (Detroit only) or visit your local police precinct to arrange for the person to be transported to a crisis center.
The Order is only valid for 10 days. If the police cannot find the person to transport them within 10 days, the order expires and a new petition would need to be filed.

What will the Court need to know?

During the hearing, the judge will verify that you personally observed the behavior and that it happened recently. You will be asked to describe the behavior in detail.
The court will also want to know the individual's substance use habits. If the problem is determined to be substance use related, you will be referred to an agency in your area.
You will also be asked whether every effort has been made to get the person to voluntarily seek help.

Where will the person be taken?

The police will take the person to any emergency department or crisis center.

What happens at the crisis center hospital?

The hospital will perform a psychiatric evaluation within 24 hours and will decide whether the person needs treatment.

What if the hospital determines that the person does not require hospitalization?

If the person does not require hospitalization, or is diagnosed as having a substance use problem, the hospital will release the person. Sometimes the hospital will recommend outpatient treatment.

And if the person is diagnosed as requiring treatment?

Then the person will be sent to a designated hospital for necessary care.

Who makes the decision to hospitalize the person for psychiatric treatment?

The hospital director and the Court are authorized to recommend hospitalization or release.
If the hospital decides that the person requires treatment and the person does not agree to treatment, a representative will file a petition for involuntary treatment and another hearing will be scheduled. An attorney will be appointed to represent the person and the attorney is required to meet with them. Sometimes the person agrees to receive treatment at that point. If the hearing is held, the court will hear testimony from the clinical staff at the hospital and may enter an order for the person to receive treatment.

How long will the person be kept in the treatment facility?

The Court may order up to 60 days of treatment on the initial admission order, but the hospital makes the final decision and could release the person earlier.

Could it be longer?

Yes. The hospital may petition the Court for continued treatment. The Court will then hold a hearing to decide whether to grant the petition or discharge the patient.

What is Assisted Outpatient Treatment?

It is often not necessary for the person to remain hospitalized to receive treatment; instead, treatment can be provided on an outpatient basis. The court may order up to 180 days of assisted outpatient treatment on an initial order for involuntary treatment.

Rev. 12/21