A Closer Look at the 5150 Mental Health Hold

By Jared Levenson - Reviewed on June 28, 2023
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Ever stumbled upon the term “5150” in a mental health context and wondered what it means?

It’s a term that carries significant weight and potentially dangerous implications in the world of mental health care.

The 5150 code is part of the California Welfare and Institutions Code, which allows for involuntary hospitalization of individuals suffering from mental health disorders.

The Online Mental Health Reviews team is qualified to write about 51/50 Mental Health Meaning due to our extensive experience and expertise in the mental health field. We’ve seen our fair share of 51/50s and know the whole experience can be incredibly traumatizing for clients and frightening for family members.

Our work is grounded in research, clinical insights, and a deep understanding of mental health legislation, making us well-equipped to provide accurate and comprehensive information regarding this and other mental health queries.

What is a 5150 Hold?

What Is 5150 Involuntary Hold?
  • A 5150 police code is an order to place someone under involuntary psychiatric hospitalization for up to 72 hours.
  • This happens when a person, due to a mental health disorder, presents a danger to themselves or others or is gravely disabled (unable to provide for their basic needs for food, clothing, or shelter).
  • The decision to implement a 5150 hold is often made by law enforcement officials or mental health professionals who have evaluated the individual.

What Does 5150 Mean?

The 5150 hold is a legal term used in California (and other states) to refer to an involuntary commitment of a person to a mental health facility.

  • This type of hold can be initiated by designated professionals, such as police officers or mental health workers, if they believe an individual is a danger to themselves or others due to their mental health condition.
  • The individual will then be held for up to 72 hours for evaluation and treatment.
  • During this time, the individual’s rights may be restricted depending on the decision of a judge, hearing officer, or doctor.

5150 Pros and Cons

The Advantages

The primary benefit of a 5150 hold is that it can provide immediate, emergency psychiatric care to individuals in danger due to their mental health condition.

This can benefit those exhibiting suicidal tendencies, severe depression, or violent behavior.

By placing an individual in a controlled environment, mental health professionals can stabilize their condition, implement necessary treatments, and potentially save lives.

The Drawbacks

However, it’s not all rosy. The 5150 hold can also pose certain disadvantages.

  • Forcing someone into involuntary treatment or hospitalization against their will can feel invasive and disempowering.
  • It can also potentially exacerbate feelings of fear, paranoia, or distress, especially if the individual does not believe they need help.
  • There’s also the risk of stigmatizing mental illness further, making individuals reluctant to seek help voluntarily.

Who Benefits?

Individuals demonstrating extreme behavioral changes, suicidal ideation, or violent tendencies are more likely to benefit from a 5150 hold. This intervention could provide them the immediate care they need, potentially averting harm to themselves or others.

Who May Not Benefit?

On the other hand, people dealing with less severe mental health conditions, such as mild anxiety or depression, might not benefit from a 5150 hold. Such a drastic measure could potentially trigger higher levels of anxiety or distress.

The 5150 and 5585 legal holds have a complex history in mental health legislation. These California Welfare and Institutions Code sections authorize temporary or involuntary detention and psychiatric commitment.

  1. Origins: The 5150 hold was established in 1967 as part of the Lanterman Act, while the 5585 came later in 1976. Both were created to address severe mental health crises.
  2. Criteria: For a 5150 hold, an individual must be a danger to self/others or gravely disabled. For a 5585, it applies to minors exhibiting these same behaviors.
  3. Controversies: Both holds been criticized for potential misuse or overuse, leading to debates about their implementation and effectiveness.
  4. Revisions: Over time, these laws have seen amendments to protect patients’ rights and ensure appropriate use.
  5. Impact: Despite controversies, these holds have undeniably played a significant role in handling acute mental health crises.

When Should You Use the 5150 Hold?

When an individual is exhibiting behavior that indicates they are a severe danger to others, themselves, or others due to their mental state, the 5150s should be utilized. At a minimum, get the individual in question mentally assessed.

  1. When an individual is unable or unwilling to seek help on their own
  2. When a professional has deemed an individual as needing immediate care and intervention
  3. When an individual has been found acting erratically in public
  4. When an individual refuses consent for medication

Warning Signs for Suicide: Knowing When to Act

Suicide warning signs are crucial when a patient is dealing with mental health crises like those covered by the 5150 hold.

  1. Mood Changes: Sudden shifts in emotions or behavior.
  2. Talk of Suicide: Expressing thoughts about death or self-harm.
  3. Withdrawal: Isolating from loved ones or activities.
  4. Risk-taking: Engaging in dangerous, reckless behaviors.
  5. Preparation: Making plans or arrangements for suicide. Recognizing these signs can help prevent a tragedy and is often the first step towards getting a person the professional help they need.

Getting Help for a Loved One: Steps to Take if They Are Posing Harm to Themselves

  1. Reach out for help: Talk to a mental health professional, such as a therapist or doctor, who can assess the situation and guide how best to proceed.
  2. Educate yourself: Learn about the signs of mental illness and the available treatments to understand better what your loved one is going through.
  3. Create a safety plan: Develop an action plan with your loved one in case of any dangerous situations.
  4. Connect with support groups: Find local support groups or online forums where you can get advice from others in similar situations.
  5. Monitor their behavior: Pay close attention to any changes that could indicate they are at risk of harming themselves or others. If you’re monitoring a teen, please know there are free online counseling resources for teens available.
  6. Seek legal assistance: If necessary, contact an attorney who can help you take steps to ensure your loved one’s safety and well-being.
  7. Get help for yourself: Taking care of someone with a mental illness can be emotionally draining, so ensure you get the support you need. Maintaining a journal for mental health where you organize your plan of action, as well as write out worrisome thoughts to clear your mind, can be an invaluable practice.

The Intricacies of Privacy, 5150s, and Family Rights

Privacy laws protect the rights of individuals to keep their personal information private.

This includes medical information, such as mental health records. Sending or receiving information about a loved one’s mental health without their permission violates privacy laws.

Here are some key points to consider when it comes to protecting your loved one’s privacy:

  • Respect your loved one’s wishes, and do not share any information without consent.
  • Understand the legal implications of sharing confidential information without permission.
  • Ensure that your loved one’s mental health is communicated securely.
  • Research has identified potential risks associated with sharing sensitive information online or through other digital means, such as social media.
  • Seek professional help if you need assistance navigating the intricacies of privacy laws related to mental health records. Free legal advice through online chat is an excellent first step.

Involuntary Psychiatric Holds and Firearm Prohibitions in California

  • In California, an involuntary psychiatric hold (5150) can result in the removal of firearms from the individual’s possession, according to Giffords.org.
  • Federal law also generally prohibits people from possessing firearms if they have been involuntarily hospitalized or committed to a mental institution.
  • Restoring gun rights after such an event requires discharge papers and bills from the hospital or designated facility and may be subject to additional restrictions.

How To Handle The Anxiety of a 5150 Hold

A 5150 hold can be an incredibly stressful and challenging time, not just for the individual involved but also for their loved ones. It’s important to remember that self-care is beneficial and necessary during this time. Here are some strategies to care for yourself:

  1. Yoga: Yoga is a mind-body practice that combines physical poses, controlled breathing, and meditation. Yoga can help reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and improve heart function. Practicing yoga can provide peace in a turbulent situation, helping reduce anxiety and promote a sense of calm.
  2. Journaling: Writing down your thoughts and feelings can be a therapeutic outlet, helping you to process complex emotions. Evidence-based journals can also serve as a way to track your experiences and identify patterns or triggers in your emotional state.
  3. Meditation: Meditation is a practice where an individual uses a technique – such as mindfulness or focusing the mind on a particular object, thought, or activity – to train attention and awareness and achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm, and stable state. Meditating can help manage stress and improve overall well-being.
  4. Online Therapy: Online therapy platforms connect you with licensed therapists from your home. This can be particularly helpful if you’re feeling isolated or overwhelmed. Speaking with a professional can provide you with strategies to cope with stress and anxiety.
  5. Regular Exercise: Physical activity releases endorphins, known as ‘feel-good’ hormones, which can boost your mood and act as natural stress relievers.
  6. Healthy Eating: Maintaining a balanced diet can improve your physical health, which in turn can help you manage stress more effectively.
  7. Sleep Hygiene: Prioritize good sleep habits. Rest is vital for emotional and physical health, especially during stressful times.
  8. Stay Connected: Reach out to friends and family. You don’t have to go through this alone. Stay connected with your support network, even if it’s just a quick text or call.
  9. Practice Mindfulness: Being present in the moment can help you avoid becoming overwhelmed by what might happen in the future. Mindfulness exercises, like focused breathing or sensory activities, can help ground you when anxious.
  10. Hobbies and Interests: Engage in activities that you enjoy or find relaxing. This could be reading, listening to music, drawing, or any other hobbies. These activities can provide a welcome distraction and can contribute to maintaining your identity and sense of self during difficult times.

Remember, it’s okay to feel stressed and anxious during these times.

Additional Resources on Mental Health Holds: Equip Yourself with Knowledge

Mental health is an important topic that affects us all. It’s essential to be informed and educated about mental health to understand it better and take steps to ensure our well-being.

Here are some additional resources on mental health that can help equip you with the knowledge you need:

  1. Mental Health America: This organization provides information on various mental health topics, including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, addiction, and more. https://www.mhanational.org/
  2. National Alliance on Mental Illness: This organization supports those living with mental illness and their families, as well as education and advocacy services. https://www.nami.org/
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: The CDC offers information about the prevalence of mental illness in the US and strategies for prevention and treatment of mental illness. https://www.cdc.gov/mentalhealth/index.htm
  4. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: SAMHSA provides resources on various topics related to substance abuse and mental health, such as suicide prevention, crisis intervention services, treatment options, and more. https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/disaster-distress-helpline
  5. American Psychological Association: The APA offers a wealth of resources on various psychological topics, including research articles on mental health issues such as anxiety disorders and depression in children and teens; parenting tips; advice for managing stress; etc.. https://www.apa.org/topics/mental-health

51/50 Mental Health Meaning – Summary

The 5150 mental health hold is critical in our mental health care system, providing a life-saving intervention for individuals in severe crisis.

However, like any tool, its use must be balanced with careful consideration of the potential drawbacks, including the impact on the individual’s autonomy and long-term mental health.

As we continue to evolve in understanding and treating mental health disorders, we must keep refining our approaches, prioritizing the well-being and dignity of the individuals we aim to help.

For further reading, check out resources about 5150 holds, the impact of a 5150, 5150 costs, visiting, public records, 5150 rules, after-release, get out of a hold, background check, self-commitment, who pays, minors, and 5150 codes.

Remember, if you need to reach a lawyer or expert for urgent questions, Just Answer’s $5 trial is a reasonable option. Our team has bought and reviewed Just Answer, and we believe this service could be helpful when navigating the complexities of the healthcare industry.

Our team welcomes your involvement in our discussions on 51/50s. Please feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions about 5150 records or if there’s a mental health software product you’d like Online Mental Health Reviews to investigate next.

If You’re In An Emergency

If you’re facing a mental health crisis, waiting for an online therapy session might not be the safest option. In emergencies, especially if there’s an immediate risk of harm to yourself or others, dial 911 without delay.

Alternatively, contact the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline 988 for round-the-clock assistance if you’re contemplating self-harm. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) also offers a confidential helpline at 800-662-HELP (4357). This service is available 24/7, 365 days a year, providing information and support for those seeking mental health or substance abuse treatment.

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