If you have to go to the Emergency Room (ER), your caseworker should go with you and should stay with you until you are discharged or admitted into the hospital. Your caseworker should never leave you alone in the ER.
If the ER doctors decide you do not need to be admitted to the hospital, you will be discharged. Your agency may put in place additional mental health services to help you succeed in your placement and stay out of the hospital. Remember, you can always call your lawyer if you feel that your agency is not providing you with the services that you need.
There are several ways to be admitted to a psychiatric hospital. If you are 16 or older, you can ask to be admitted to the hospital. If you are under 18, your parent, legal guardian, or others may also make this request on your behalf. In this case you will be on Voluntary Status.
If you are a voluntary patient, you have a right to ask for your own discharge. You must give notice to the hospital staff that you want to leave. Within 72 hours of this notice, the hospital must either release you or apply for a court order to keep you hospitalized involuntarily. Your lawyer at MHLS can help you with this process.
There may be times when the decision to go to the hospital is not your own. This will usually happen when there is a crisis, and an adult responsible for your care feels that you present a danger to yourself or others. If you are admitted to the hospital on Emergency Status, you will be evaluated by a psychiatrist within 48 hours and may be held up to 15 days. At the end of 15 days, you can only be held in the hospital if you consent (Voluntary Status) or if the doctors feel that you remain a danger to yourself or others. This is called Involuntary Status. You can be held involuntarily for up to 60 days, but you can contact your MHLS lawyer to request a court hearing for release at any time.