A Comprehensive Guide to the 5150 Hold: What You Need to Know

By Jared Levenson - Reviewed on June 29, 2023
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Understanding mental health issues can be daunting, mainly when the situation necessitates immediate action, like a 5150 hold. But what exactly is a 5150 hold? And how can you initiate one?

The Online Mental Health Reviews team, led by a former Zen Buddhist monk and a licensed counselor with over a decade of experience, is qualified to write about the complexities of 5150 holds due to mental health facility to our extensive professional background in mental health.

In this blog article, we’ll explore the nuances and technicalities and guide you to better understand the 5150.

What is a 5150 Hold?

A 5150 hold, also known as an involuntary psychiatric hospital hold, is a section of the California Welfare and Institutions Code that allows a person with a mental illness to be involuntarily detained for a 72-hour psychiatric hospitalization. Other states also use this same code too.

This law is enacted when there is probable cause to believe that due to mental illness, a person is a danger to themselves or others or is gravely disabled.

The Purpose and Significance of a 5150 Hold

The primary purpose of a 5150 hold is to protect the individual from harm during a mental health crisis or psychiatric emergency. It provides a safer environment where the individual can receive a mental health evaluation and necessary treatment.

I Was Forced To Go To A Mental Hospital | #MentalMonday

How to Get Someone on a 5150 Hold: A Step-by-step Guide We Hope You Don’t Need

1. Identify the Crisis: Look for signs of a mental health crisis, such as erratic behavior, self-harm, threats to your own life or others, or inability to care for oneself.

2. Contact a Mental Health Professional: Consult with a police officer or a psychiatrist, psychologist, or social worker who can assess the situation and determine if a 5150 hold is necessary.

3. Notify Law Enforcement: If the situation is urgent and you believe the person is in immediate danger, call local law enforcement or a local hospital or crisis intervention team.

4. Cooperate with Authorities: Provide detailed information about the person’s behavior and mental state. This will help authorities assess the situation accurately.

5. Follow-Up: After taking the individual to a treatment facility or into custody, stay informed about their status and cooperate with healthcare providers. Free legal advice is available.

Steps to Take to Care for a Family Member Experiencing Mental Crisis

In a mental crisis, follow these general steps:

  1. Stay calm and ensure safety: Keep yourself and the person safe from harm.
  2. Listen empathetically: Provide non-judgmental support.
  3. Seek professional help: Contact a mental health professional for free or emergency services.
  4. Consider a 5150 hold: If they pose an imminent danger to themselves/others or can’t meet basic needs due to their mental state.

Please note: a 5150 hold is a last resort.

Potential Risks and Consequences

While a 5150 hold can provide immediate safety, it’s essential to know the potential risks:

  • Trauma: Being involuntarily detained can be traumatic for the individual.
  • Stigma: There’s potential for increased stigma around mental health.
  • Legal Implications: A 5150 hold can impact future rights like gun ownership.

What Happens After a 5150 Hold

After a 5150 hold, there are three options:

  1. The individual may be released.
  2. Voluntarily admit themselves to a psychiatric facility for further treatment.
  3. Be placed under a longer involuntary commitment if they’re still a danger to themselves or others.

Pros and Cons of a 5150 Hold

While a 5150 hold can ensure immediate safety and psychiatric care for the individual and those around them, it’s not without its drawbacks. The process can be traumatic and stigmatizing. However, it can also pave the way for the individual to get help.

About 5150 “Treatment”

The term “treatment” describes what happens during the hold because it encompasses a range of therapeutic interventions to stabilize the patient and reduce immediate risk. This can include medication management, counseling, and other therapeutic activities.

  • However, the methods used during a 5150 hold often feel punitive rather than therapeutic. For example, research states, “People in acute mental health inpatient units are not asked about their previous trauma histories on admission, and their trauma history is not taken into consideration during interventions in particular coercive practices such as seclusion, restraint, forced medication, and involuntary admission“.
  • The use of restraints and seclusion in some cases, along with the loss of personal freedom, can lead to feelings of isolation and confinement, potentially exacerbating the individual’s mental distress.
  • Moreover, these practices might deter individuals from seeking help due to fear of being subjected to such treatment.

Therefore, it’s crucial to question whether this is the most suitable way to handle individuals in life-threatening situations. The medical community should explore alternative ways to provide care that doesn’t compromise a person’s dignity and mental health.

Alternatives to 5150s

  1. Crisis Intervention Teams (CITs), composed of law enforcement officers trained in de-escalation techniques and crisis intervention, have shown promise. CITs aim to divert individuals from the criminal justice system and connect them with mental health services.
  2. Similarly, implementing trauma-informed care principles in psychiatric facilities could make a significant difference. This approach acknowledges the widespread impact of trauma and seeks to resist re-traumatization actively. It emphasizes physical, psychological, and emotional safety for providers and survivors and creates opportunities for survivors to rebuild a sense of control and empowerment.
  3. Additionally, peer support specialists – individuals with lived experience of mental health conditions who support others experiencing similar struggles – can offer a more compassionate and empathetic approach to care.

While the 5150 hold is critical in preventing immediate harm, it’s essential to continually assess and improve these practices.

By focusing on dignity, respect, and empowerment, we can strive towards a system that truly supports individuals during their most vulnerable moments.

Recognizing the Need for a 5150 Hold

Ideally, recognizing the need for a 5150 involves a mental health assessment and identifying severe symptoms of mental illness that pose an immediate danger.

Key warning signs which may precede a 5150 include:

  1. Threat to Self: The person expresses suicidal thoughts or has attempted suicide.
  2. Threat to Others: They exhibit violent behavior or make threats against others.
  3. Unable to Care for Self: They can’t meet basic needs like food, clothing, or shelter due to mental disorders.
  4. Severe Mental Illness Symptoms: Extreme mood swings, hallucinations, or loss of touch with reality are present.
  5. Non-compliance with Treatment: They refuse necessary mental health treatment.

It’s crucial to consult with mental health professionals before initiating a 5150 hold to ensure it’s the best course of action.

Please note: only the authorities, such as police, supervising psychiatrist or doctor, or school principal, may call a 5150. While you can report the circumstances and demand a 5150, the power ultimately resides with the mental health professional.

What makes someone eligible for a 5150?

  1. They present a danger to themselves.
  2. They pose a threat to others due to a mental disorder.
  3. They are gravely disabled, meaning they cannot provide for their basic needs, such as food, clothing, or shelter, because of a mental health disorder.

Only authorized mental health personnel or peace officers can initiate this hold, which lasts up to 72 hours for evaluation and outpatient treatment.

How do I know if I should call 911?

  1. The person is threatening harm to themselves or others.
  2. They cannot care for their basic needs due to their mental state.
  3. Their behavior is erratic, violent, or dangerous, and you feel unsafe.

Understanding the 5150 Hold Process

The 5150 hold process:

  1. Evaluation: An authorized professional assesses the person’s mental state.
  2. Initiation: If criteria are met, a 72-hour hold is initiated.
  3. Treatment: The individual receives necessary care during the hold.
  4. Release or Extension: After 72 hours, the person is either released or the hold is extended if they pose a risk.

Emergency Psychiatric Holds

Emergency psychiatric holds, like a 5150, are:

  1. Measures to ensure safety: Used when someone is a danger to themselves/others due to mental illness.
  2. Temporary: Typically last up to 72 hours for evaluation and treatment.
  3. Initiated by professionals: Only authorized professionals can create these holds.

What Happens During a 5150?

During a 5150 hold:

  1. Evaluation: The person’s mental state is assessed by professionals.
  2. Treatment: Necessary care and supervision are provided.
  3. Decision: After 72 hours, they’re either released or the hold is extended based on their condition.

How Long Is a 5150 Hold in California?

A 5150 hold in California lasts up to 72 hours, during which the individual is assessed and treated. The hold may be extended if the person still presents a danger to themselves or others.

Psychiatric Commitment

Psychiatric commitment, also known as involuntary hospitalization, involves:

  1. Evaluation: A mental health professional assesses the person’s condition.
  2. Legal Process: If the person is a danger to themselves/others, a court order may be issued for treatment.
  3. Treatment: The individual is hospitalized and receives the necessary care.

Comparing Different Types of Holds

Different types of holds include:

  1. 5150 Hold: Up to 72 hours for individuals posing a danger due to mental illness.
  2. 5250 Hold: An extension of the 5150, lasting up to 14 days if the person is still a threat.
  3. Conservatorship: Long-term care arrangement made when someone can’t care for themselves.

What’s the difference between 5150 and 5250?

The difference between 5150 and 5250 holds lies in the following:

  1. Duration: 5150 lasts up to 72 hours, while 5250 can extend to 14 days.
  2. Purpose: Both are for safety, but 5250 is used if danger persists after 72 hours.

Differences Between 5150 Hold and Acute Stabilization

  1. Duration: A 5150 hold lasts up to 72 hours, while acute stabilization can vary.
  2. Purpose: 5150 is for immediate safety; acute stabilization focuses on rapid symptom reduction.
  3. Setting: 5150 holds are in a secure facility; acute stabilization can occur in various settings.

5250 Holds

  1. Extension: It extends a 5150 hold for up to 14 days.
  2. Assessment: Continued evaluation of the individual’s mental state.
  3. Treatment: Ongoing care if the person is still considered a threat to themselves or others.
  1. Authority: Only specific professionals can initiate it.
  2. Criteria: The person must pose a danger to themselves/others due to mental illness.
  3. Rights: The individual has rights, including the right to refuse treatment, unless they cannot make informed decisions.

Involuntary Psychiatric Holds and Firearm Prohibitions in California

In California:

  1. Involuntary Psychiatric Holds: 5150 allows for up to a 72-hour hold for mental health evaluation and treatment.
  2. Firearm Prohibitions: Individuals held on a 5150 are prohibited from owning or possessing firearms for five years, extendable under certain conditions.
  1. Substance Abuse: Those with severe addiction may face restrictions on certain activities.
  2. Legal Capacity: Severe mental illness can limit one’s ability to make legal decisions.
  3. Employment: Certain jobs for those with serious mental health conditions may be restricted.

What is law AB 1194?

  1. Pertains to conservatorship, setting standards for its application.
  2. Imposes penalties for abuse by non-professional fiduciaries.
  3. Ensures representation in key conservatorship proceedings.
  4. Promotes the preferences of the conservatee.

Navigating After a 5150 Hold

  1. Follow-up Care: Seek outpatient therapy or counseling.
  2. Legal Aid: Understand your legal rights and obligations.
  3. Support Networks: Lean on friends, family, or support groups.
  4. Self-Care: Prioritize mental health and well-being.

Why can’t I send and receive information about my loved one?

The authors of this article want to give a note of practical advice:

Be sure that the person being 5150 has their cellphone, especially if a family member. Be sure they also have their cell phone charger. This will help you maintain communication.

Once in custody, obtaining more information may not be easy, but it’s much easier with a direct mobile connection.

This restriction is due to the following:

  1. Privacy Laws: HIPAA protects patient confidentiality.
  2. Consent: Unless the person consents, information cannot be shared.
  3. Capacity: Legal processes determine who gets information if the person can’t consent.

How do I share information about my loved one?

  1. Obtain Consent: The individual must give permission.
  2. Legal Authority: A court-appointed guardian can share info if they can’t consent.
  3. Follow Procedures: Comply with healthcare providers’ protocols for sharing data.

Seeking Help and Additional Resources

  1. Family Education & Resource Center (FERC): Offers resources and answers to frequently asked questions about crises and 5150 holds. This can be a great starting point for families seeking initial guidance. Learn More
  2. County of Santa Clara Behavioral Health Services – 5150 Training: Provides current training on the 5150 processes, ideal for individuals wanting a more in-depth understanding or those in professions that might require this knowledge. Learn More
  3. Orange County Health Care Agency – Navigating the Involuntary (5150) Hold Process: This resource provides a comprehensive guide to understanding the 5150 hold process, including assessment and evaluation procedures. Learn More
  4. Aspiro Adventure – Navigating A 5150 Hold For Minors: A Guide For Parents: This resource specifically targets parents dealing with a potential 5150 hold on their child. It offers guidance and reassurance during what can be an incredibly distressing time. Learn More
  5. California Senate – Important Resources By County: For California residents, this resource breaks down mental health resources, including 5150 information, by county. It’s a great tool for finding local help. Learn More

Get Answers, Guidance, and Protection

  1. Consult Experts: Reach out to mental health professionals.
  2. Legal Advice: Seek counsel from a lawyer familiar with mental health laws.
  3. Advocacy Groups: Utilize resources from mental health advocacy organizations.
  4. Self-Education: Learn about mental health conditions and treatments.
  5. Become a Mental Health Ambassador: Become a Certified Mental Health Ambassador.

Getting the Help You Need Today

  1. Reach Out: Contact a mental health professional.
  2. Hotlines: Use crisis lines for urgent help.
  3. Support: Connect with friends and family.
  4. Self-Care: Prioritize your well-being.

How To Get Someone On A 5150 Hold Conclusion

A 5150 hold is a significant measure taken during a mental health crisis. It’s crucial to handle these situations with the care, understanding, and guidance of a treatment team of mental health professionals. While it comes with potential risks, a 5150 hold can also be a lifeline, providing immediate safety and access to care.

Do you have any questions about how to get someone on a 5150 hold, or questions about a 5150 record? Feel free to leave a comment below.

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 experiencing a crisis, it’s crucial not to delay help by waiting for an online therapy session. If immediate assistance is required, dial 911. This is particularly important if there’s a risk of harm to yourself or others. If you’re contemplating self-harm, the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is at your service around the clock – just dial 988.

Additionally, there’s the National Helpline of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) at 800-662-HELP (4357). This helpline offers a confidential, complimentary service that provides treatment information and assistance to those dealing with a serious mental illness, or substance abuse disorders, accessible 24/7 throughout the year.

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