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Getting help for a loved one that is posing harm to themselves or others.
When someone you care about is showing signs of severe mental instability, they may benefit from a 5150 hold. This is the legal action in CA law that allows for the involuntary 3-day hold for mental health assessment.
A 5150 hold can save someone’s life. At the time, it may seem harsh but these interventions have saved countless people from suicide. When a loved one is in crisis, a 5150 hold may be the best option you have for helping them.
When Should You Use the 5150 Hold?
A 5150 (pronounced fifty-one-fifty) is a legal action from the CA Welfare and Institutions Code. It allows a qualified officer or clinician to confine someone against their will for 72 hours. During this time, the person will be fully assessed for their mental health status. The idea is to obtain help for the person during the hold, and after they are released.
Certain signs will be noticed when someone is having a mental breakdown. These might include:
- Psychotic break, or losing touch with reality.
- Violent acts against others.
- Threats of suicide.
- Gravely disabled.
- Effects of excessive substance abuse.
- Catatonic state.
According to the state of CA, there are three reasons for invoking a 5150 3-day hold. Only one of the three needs to be present. These include:
- The individual is a danger to him or herself.
- The individual is a danger to others.
- The individual is gravely disabled.
It is usually a family member or spouse that will make the call to police dispatch asking for help. After the police are called, an officer will arrive on the scene. They will place the person in handcuffs as a matter of safety during the drive to the hospital.
Warning Signs for Suicide
Based on data from the AFSP, approximately 45,000 Americans die by suicide each year. For every completed suicide there are 25 suicide attempts. There are some warning signs that may alert you that a loved one is thinking about taking their life:
- They believe they are a burden to others.
- They feel hopeless, or say they have no reason to live.
- They gain the means to commit suicide, such as buying a gun or storing up drugs.
- They mention they want to die.
- Changes in sleep habits, like sleeping more than normal or insomnia.
- Withdraws from family and friends.
- Having a recent trauma or loss.
- Increased use of alcohol or drugs.
- Engages in high-risk behaviors.
- Seems highly agitated or anxious.
- Saying they feel trapped in their mental pain.
- Frequent mood swings.
- Giving away things that have special meaning to them.
What Happens During a 5150 Hold?
When someone initiates a 5150 hold, a peace officer arrives to transport the person to the hospital. Once the loved one is admitted to the hospital, a clinical team then begins the intake process. This involves a thorough interview and psych evaluation. A mental health assessment is done using the DSM-5.
The first efforts upon admittance revolve around stabilizing the person. They may need to be restrained or medicated in this regard. The patient is closely watched during the acute stabilization phase.
Over the 3-day time span, the patient will receive daily therapy from a psychiatrist. The doctor will be able to assess the mental health status after 3 days and arrive at a recommendation. The patient is released with orders to continue outpatient treatment, or admitted for a longer stay in an inpatient setting.
Getting Treatment After the 72-Hour Hold
In most cases, the person will be released to the family after the 3-day hold. A case worker will arrange for the mental health services that the doctor has prescribed. The patient may begin a PHP or IOP program where they will receive ongoing treatment. These are outpatient programs that allow for the patient to arrange their schedule around work or family needs.
Outpatient care involves both therapy and medication in most cases. While in the 3-day hold, a doctor will have prescribed drugs that will help to manage the symptoms. Meds are coupled with talk therapy and group sessions scheduled throughout the week.
Other actions that assist in mental health wellness include getting exercise and at least 7 hours of sleep each night. Yoga and mindfulness techniques can also aid in the healing process.
Intensive Treatment for Mental Health Disorders
For some people, a longer stay in an inpatient mental health setting is the best level of care. These programs provide a more intensive and tailored treatment approach for people with more serious mental health issues. The inpatient settings allow the person to take a break from the things that trigger stress in daily life. This allows them to just focus on healing.
Inpatient mental health programs provide a safe place where highly trained mental health experts can assist patients. Here, the patient can work closely with therapists in gaining new insights about their mental health. New coping skills are obtained that can be practiced during treatment.
Family therapy is also a major aspect of treatment. These sessions allow family members to join their loved one and offer support. The therapist can engage family members in doing group exercises that will improve communication between them. Gaining the support of family members is a crucial aspect of the treatment process.
The length of stay at the mental health center will depend on the progress made. Most inpatient stays last about three months. After discharge from the program, the loved one will likely step down to an outpatient program to continue their progress.
The Treatment Specialist Online Resource for Mental Health Guidance
The Treatment Specialist is an online resource for helpful articles on mental health issues and treatment options for adults, teens, and families. If your loved one has experienced a mental health crisis, reach out to The Treatment Specialist for guidance. Call the team today at (866) 644-7911.