Baker Acted: What Does that Mean?
In Florida, the term “Baker Acted” is used to describe the event of someone undergoing admission to a mental health facility under the Baker Act. This can be done voluntarily or involuntarily, depending on the circumstances. Although it may sound harsh, in some circumstances it can be the best option for a person who is struggling with mental illness and may be a danger to themselves or others.
How Does the Baker Act Work?
The Florida Mental Health Act, referred to as the Baker Act, was created in 1971 and named after Florida state representative Maxine Baker, who sponsored the bill. The legislation is designed to protect those who need mental health care, allowing for voluntary and involuntary mental health services on an emergency, short-term and ongoing basis.
The Baker Act covers everyone, whether they are children or adults, and can be used whenever needed. To be voluntarily “Baker Acted” means that a person voluntarily asks for a mental health evaluation, or a parent of a minor asks for a mental evaluation for their child. When a person is involuntarily “Baker Acted,” it must be initiated by a mental health professional, doctor, law enforcement or a judge.
Once a person is admitted to a mental health facility under the Baker Act, there is a maximum hold time. Minors must be evaluated within 12 hours and adults must have an evaluation within 72 hours. After an evaluation is completed, recommendations are made for treatment or release. In severe mental health cases, a patient may be involuntarily committed if they are believed to be a threat to themselves or others.
How Is Someone “Baker Acted?”
In most cases, a person is “Baker Acted” when a police officer, doctor or other authorized person is concerned about their mental state. This could be after an arrest or when a person is admitted into an emergency room for illegal or abnormal behavior. Law enforcement usually transports the patient to an approved facility once they have been “Baker Acted,” by force if necessary. While many involuntary admissions expire at the end of 72 hours and the patient can leave if they desire, in some cases the mental health facility can petition for involuntary commitment for further mental health treatment.
The Baker Act was created to help those with mental health issues get the help they need. If you have concerns about a loved one who has been involuntarily institutionalized under the Baker Act or believe a loved one needs emergency mental health care, contact Tison Law Group for legal advice.