Advice on how to seek mental health assistance
Thursday, April 15, 2004
By The Associated Press
Dr. Mark Hazelrigg, chief of forensic psychiatric services at Dorothea Dix, the state mental hospital in Raleigh, suggests the following steps for anyone concerned that a loved one might be a danger to society or themselves:
o If a therapist is already involved, it's best to talk with the mental health professional directly, because they'll know which doors to open in a crisis.
o If someone doesn't have a therapist or the counselor can't be reached, a local mental health center or hospital emergency room can explain the procedure for involuntary committment. The process involves visiting a county magistrate or court clerk and offering evidence that there's an imminent threat of dangerous behavior.
o If those steps don't work, law enforcement officers can be called. They have the power to take people away for involuntary committment if they believe there is an imminent risk.
Beth Hardy, incoming president of North Carolina's chapter of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, says families unable to get help should file a grievance with the local mental health authority stating that their need is not being met. Another possibility is contacting the Gov.'s Advocacy Council for Persons with Disabilities.