When a friend, family member or person in the community is experiencing a mental health crisis and presents a possible threat to themselves or others, most people are at a loss as to where to turn.
The situation may not qualify for police intervention and the person may refuse to see a mental health professional.
King County Crisis and Commitment Services offers help for those who are in a behavioral health crisis. If the case meets their criteria, they will send a mental health professional (M.H.P.) to meet with the person in question. Based on their assessment, THEY decide if someone should be involuntarily committed for assistance. This decision is not made simply because a call for help is made. (I feel this is an important point to stress as many people I've spoken to have hesitated to call for assistance because they do not want the responsibility of having someone committed against their will for services. It's important to remember that trained professionals with considerable experience are the ones making this decision.)
Ideally, involuntary hospitalization is designed to hold those needing help while they receive the medical intervention they need to stabilize their condition. After their mental status is assessed in more detail, a decision will be made as to how long the patient will be held. Follow-up resources are offered in hope that they will get the help they need going forward.
Below is a list of criteria that constitutes harmful or threatening behavior towards self or others:
- Threatening harm towards others or themselves
- Substantially damaging someone else's property
- Endangered because they are not caring for their basic needs such as eating, sleeping, clothing and shelter
- Demonstrate severe deterioration in functioning ability and are not receiving essential care
If you know someone in need of immediate assistance, please call the King County Crisis line at 206-461-3222.