New standard for involuntarily commitment to psychiatric facility promotes safety first
News Release from Rep Cynthia Theilen, January 28, 2016
To further protect the well-being of the mentally ill, who may hurt themselves or others, and for increased public safety, Representative Cynthia Thielen is cosponsoring a bill with an improved standard for the involuntarily hospitalization of mentally ill persons.
The proposed legislation, HB 1686, allows for the involuntary commitment of individuals, who when based on their recent behavior are likely to harm themselves or others, without waiting for imminent, or at-hand, danger to occur.
Current law, Act 221, prohibits involuntarily hospitalization unless a standard of imminent danger is met. The bill to be introduced removes the need to wait for imminent danger and allows for involuntary commitment when there is a likelihood of danger. This less-restrictive standard is consistent with the law in most other states, where serious or substantial risk, likelihood or probability of harm is sufficient.
Mental-health treatment may then be available at the hospital or psychiatric facility before any self-harm or harm to others is enacted.
"Having 'imminent dangerousness' as the main standard leaves Hawaii's communities with an unworkable law that makes it extremely difficult to fulfill its original purpose of protecting communities and providing necessary treatment to mentally ill individuals who are posing a danger to themselves or others," Representative Thielen said.
The recent rise in Hawaii's homeless population has highlighted the need for a better standard in involuntarily hospitalization.
HB1686: Text, Status
Related: Mental Health: Can Reform Solve Hawaii’s Homeless, Prison and Unfunded Liability Problems?