The Baker Act in Florida: What you need to know
If you live in the state of Florida and are dealing with an addicted loved one, then you may be familiar with the Baker Act (also known as the Florida Mental Health Act of 1971). The Baker Act allows people to be committed to a mental health facility for 72 hours, against their will. The Baker act is applied when someone is considered dangerous to themselves or others
Here is the definition of the Baker Act from Wikipedia:
The Baker Act allows for involuntary examination (what some call emergency or involuntary commitment). It can be initiated by judges, law enforcement officials, physicians, or mental health professionals. There must be evidence that the person:
- has a mental illness (as defined in the Baker Act).
- Is a harm to self, harm to others, or self-neglectful (as defined in the Baker Act).
Examinations may last up to 72 hours after a person is deemed medically stable and occur in over 100 Florida Department of Children and Families-designated receiving facilities statewide.
It can be frightening to see a loved one placed under the Baker Act, especially if you are not aware of what happens once the act is enforced. The person placed under the act must stay at the facility he or she has been sent to for 72 hours, even is the person is a minor. A parent will not be able to override this. The only way the person can be released is after the mental health professional at the facility states that the person is no longer a threat to himself or others. Follow up care in either a rehab or detox center or mental health facility (as an inpatient or outpatient) is often recommended once the person is released.
If your loved one has been placed under the Florida Baker Act, do not panic. It is important to corporate with hospital or facility where your loved on is being held. If you are the parent of a minor child who has been placed, then you may be required to attend a family therapy session before your child can be released.
Remember, people are not just randomly Baker acted; The act is there to protect the individual from harming himself or others. Being Baker acted is a huge red flag that there are underlying addiction and/or mental health issues. Please take this seriously and make sure that your loved one received professional help after the 72 hour evaluation and that you follow the doctor’s recommendations. The Baker Act has given you the opportunity to get help for your loved one and keep them safe from harm while they are being evaluated.