Mental Health FAQ's

man holding chin sitting down

Frequently Asked Questions

Prior to a visit to North Central Health Care, many patients and families have questions about treatment team recommendations and the legal terminology. With many years spent serving members of our community, we have the answers to help you understand some of the processes such as commitments, settlement agreements, emergency detentions and probably cause hearings.

Answers about Commitments

What does it mean if I am placed on a commitment?

If a judge determines that you might not follow through with the treatment team’s recommendations after you are discharged, and that doing so could cause safety concerns for yourself or others, they may file a court order that you be placed on a commitment. You will not be held in a locked unit for the duration of your commitment, but you will be expected to participate in treatment, mainly on an outpatient basis.

What is a commitment?

A commitment means that you must legally comply with all of the recommendations of your treatment team, such as (but not limited to) keeping all of your scheduled appointments, taking all of your prescribed medications and/or abstaining from substances.

What happens if I do not comply with commitment I have agreed to?

If you do not follow through with terms of the commitment for which you have agreed, your treatment team may request that law enforcement bring you back to a secured unit where you may be held against your will. Your treatment team will then again work with you to develop a plan to meet compliance with recommendations.

Information about Settlement Agreements

What is a legal settlement agreement?

A legal settlement agreement is a court document that details your treatment team’s recommendations for up to 90 days. All settlement agreements are voluntary. You will be asked to sign the legal settlement agreement which is your promise to follow through with all of the treatment team’s recommendations for the specified amount of time, up to 90 days.

What does it mean if I am offered a settlement agreement?

You may be offered a legal settlement agreement if your treatment team feels you have been cooperative with your treatment and are willing to follow through with outpatient recommendations.

When is a settlement agreement offered?

A settlement agreement is generally offered when your treatment team does not feel that a court-ordered commitment is necessary to enforce follow through. It is offered when you are in need of services such as (but not limited to) follow-up appointments and use of prescription medication after discharge.

What happens if I do not follow the terms of the settlement agreement?

If you do not follow the terms of the legal settlement agreement, the treatment team may request that law enforcement bring you back to the secure hospital unit to decide if commitment will be needed to ensure compliance with treatment recommendations.

Answers about Emergency Detention

What does it mean when you are taken into custody by law enforcement for an emergency detention?

If you have been taken into custody by law enforcement for an emergency detention, it means there is reason to believe that you are a risk of harm to yourself or someone else. Because you are believed to pose a risk of harm, you must be admitted to a secure unit.

How long is an emergency detention?

The unit can hold you in an emergency detention against your will for up to 72 hours (this does not include weekends or holidays). During that time you will be seen by a psychiatrist every day that will re-assess your current risk of harm.

Can I leave an emergency detention before the 72 hours are up?

If the psychiatrist believes you are no longer at risk of harm, he/she can choose to dismiss the detention at any time before the 72 hours are up. If the psychiatrist believes that you continue to pose a risk of harm and 72 hours (not counting weekends and holidays) has lapsed, a probable cause hearing must be held.

Probable Cause Hearings

What is a probable cause hearing?

During a probable cause hearing, a psychiatrist explains to a judge why you should be held longer, and what your current risk of harm is. If the judge does not agree with the psychiatrist, the case is dismissed and you would be discharged from the unit. If the judge agrees with the psychiatrist, a second hearing is set for no more than 14 days from the emergency detention.

What happens in those 14 days (or less)?

During those 14 days (or less), two doctors appointed by the court will see you. These doctors are independent court examiners who will assess your risk for harm and turn their findings over to the judge.

If both court examiners believe there is a risk of harm, you will attend your scheduled hearing and the judge will most likely place you on a commitment. If both court examiners determine that there is no risk for harm, you will be released. If one court examiner believes there is a risk for harm, and the second court examiner believes there is no risk of harm, an on-duty psychiatrist will be asked for his/her opinion, helping the judge decide if the patient should be released or placed on a commitment.