In our community, a person with a mental health issue might fall between the cracks and be unable to perceive the help and care that he or she may need to better their life. Although there are doctors, therapists, mental hospitals, clinics, and other resources available both in the private and public sectors and Harris County that does not mean that the help gets to the people who need it the most. As a result, Harris County has stepped up and assisted individuals in their time of need by providing them with mobile help.
The Harris County assertive community treatment program allows mental health counselors and professionals to be able to find persons who need help from a mental standpoint and treat them physically where he or she may be. The experience of our attorneys is that many of the efforts to treat persons with mental health impairments have been limited due to the difficulties in physically providing the care that these people need. What the Harris County assertive community treatment program allows for is mobile help that is ready at the drop of a hat to locate and treat an individual who needs help with their mental health.https://www.youtube.com/embed/109feR-ZiNA?si=XRM2CekJS7aqgMZi
In this way, the care provided to a person with a mental health impairment becomes personalized. Consider that if you have a loved one who suffers from a mental health impairment, he or she may need continuous and around-the-clock care for a crisis that he or she is going through. As a result, this program allows for personalized care that caters to the specific circumstances that your loved one finds themself in. For example, if your loved one presents as a danger to themselves or others then procedures can be followed to help your loved one find an inpatient psychiatric facility where he or she can receive care. On the other hand, if your loved one is suffering an acute incident and is not a danger to themselves or others then a primary care doctor can be located to manage your loved one’s medications and continue with care.
Finally, the assertive community treatment program allows for job placement activities to go on. In some cases, a person slips into a mental health crisis or episode because of economic instability, housing problems, or a combination of the two. Harris County recognizes that consistent work and assistance can help reduce the likelihood that a mental health issue arises because of problems securing work. The resources available to your loved one through Harris County have been increasing in recent years and familiarizing yourself with these resources can be a great benefit to you and those in your life.
More on the Assertive Community Treatment team in Harris County
Psychiatric symptoms of an individual with a mental health disorder can be difficult to treat even in a medical ward or clinic. While some aspects of the care for a mental health issue may be like the care needed for a physical health issue, there may not be all that much overlap. As a result, there exists a need in our community to integrate whole-person care- treatment for mental issues that require examination of a person’s physical person, as well.
Assertive Community Treatment teams can help bridge this gap and provide the type of care your loved one may need. For instance, let’s presume that you have a cousin who had a neurological condition that due to him not having insurance went untreated for many months. At that time, he was not able to take medication and developed aggressive personality traits and other disorders on the mental side of things, as well. In this situation, assertive community care could be a way to help treat your cousin using community resources. This is as opposed to your cousin seeking care only from a primary care doctor who may be ill-equipped to handle the mental issues brought about by their physical illness.
Integrating different types of care within one source has been a major effort of both the mental health and medical professions over the past several years. One of the main motivators of this movement has been striking statistics that have seen persons with mental health issues suffer mortality rates related to medical issues higher than people in the general population. As a result, governments, the private sector, and the healthcare industry have worked to integrate care of various sorts so that persons with mental health issues can receive the care that they need.
One concept that has taken hold in Harris County is known as the patient-centered medical home. In this way, County Medical services are organized through your primary care provider team where special attention is paid to the mental health and substance abuse of a person with a mental illness. It is a team that will provide the care for your loved one and we’ll have the ability to gain familiarity with him or her. Since care is better coordinated your loved one will receive consistent care throughout their life.
Community treatment has existed for around 50 years and treats patients who have severe mental illness and who have not been compliant with outpatient treatment. If your loved one is not compliant with their medication, struggles with attending doctor’s appointments, and is generally difficult to work with on a schedule then the assertive community treatment team of Harris County may be something worthwhile for you and your family to investigate. One of the main reasons that this model has seen success is that the providers of care persist in providing that assistance to people with mental health issues even when it appears that the services are not working at first.
It is a reality for many people like your loved one to receive no treatment or less treatment than they need for an extended period. The old saying that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure is especially true when it comes to people facing mental health issues that stem from treatable physical issues. The ability to attend a primary care doctor appointment and receive regular medication could be enough to help someone stave off the ill effects of an illness or acute condition. However, lack of access to primary care doctors can put a loved one in a position where he or she must battle a condition on their own.
One thing is for certain, when a person with a mental illness is forced to self-medicate and treat the condition without the assistance of a professional there can often be missed opportunities to help that individual perform better in their daily life as well as treat many of the underlying conditions that may be causing the mental difficulties that he or she is going through. What started as a normal reaction to a physical issue can become a chronic mental health issue that impacts your loved one for years to come. Rather than accept this as a reality, your loved one can take advantage of services provided in our area such as assertive community treatment.
Applying for involuntary commitment of a loved one
However, it may come to be that your loved one experiences issues with their mental health to the point where he or she needs to be involuntarily committed for care. In that case, there are legal means to apply for a commitment warrant from a local probate court judge that would allow for your loved one to be committed to a mental institution even if he or she does not agree to do so. This is seen as a last resort in the legal world and if any additional steps can be taken to protect your loved one before an involuntary commitment those steps will be taken. However, if your loved one is a threat to themselves or others then an involuntary commitment may be necessary.
For you to be able to get a mental health warrant from a county probate court judge, you need to apply first. That application would necessarily include information about the person that you are trying to get treatment for. You and your family should ensure that you have basic information like contact information, their medical history, any substance abuse treatment history as well as their mental health treatment, if any being received currently. A medication list can also be helpful.
One of the things that we think bears mentioning in this situation is that you need to be as clear and honest as possible when applying for a mental health warrant. The more honest and clear you can be in your justification for the application and your concerns regarding your loved one the greater the likelihood that your application will be approved, and a hearing will be held eventually to determine the possibility of your loved one receiving ongoing psychiatric care and voluntarily. Any information that you can provide to the judge that you think will be helpful should be done.
What can you do in an emergency?
Being in an emergency, where your loved one is going through a mental health crisis is no laughing matter. This is an extremely serious situation where the life of your loved one and your well-being could be at stake. In truth, this is a frightening situation for many families as you may have a loved one on your hands with an undiagnosed mental condition who is unable to control their anger or other emotions at this time. As a result, understanding the steps involved in an emergency involuntary commitment could be essential to their well-being.
The first step to take in a situation like this would be to immediately call 911. It is possible that depending upon where you are physically your local jurisdiction may have a specific department that is allocated towards handling mentally ill patients and emergency circumstances. For instance, the Harris County constable’s office has a crisis intervention team that can be accessed by contacting 911. This is a resource that not many people are aware of that can be the difference between a good and a bad outcome in your situation.
When law enforcement or other personnel arrive at the scene of an emergency involving your loved one having a mental health crisis the first thing that will be assessed is whether your loved one is over the age of 18 and whether that person presents a substantial risk of harm to themselves or another person. If the answer to this question is yes, then law enforcement has the authority to take that person into police custody and then transport him or her to a mental health facility. Even if your loved one does not want to go to the mental health facility these steps can be followed by law enforcement. There can be an involuntary commitment process that is followed which involves you, another family member, or a medical provider requesting an involuntary commitment of your loved one.
Is there a difference between a guardianship and an involuntary commitment?
As guardianship attorneys, the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan are often asked if there is a difference between a guardianship proceeding and an involuntary commitment. In short, there is a difference between an involuntary commitment and a guardianship. The involuntary commitment involves using a legal process to commit your loved one to a mental institution or a psychiatric hospital against their will. On the other hand, guardianship is another legal means separate from an involuntary commitment that is utilized to grant you or another person the authority to act on behalf of an incapacitated person to ensure that their well-being is being considered.
Contrary to popular belief, just because you are someone’s legal guardian does not mean that you can commit your ward to a psychiatric hospital against the ward’s will. When you are named as guardian your job is to step into the place of your ward to make decisions on that person’s behalf. When a person is incapacitated then he or she is unable to make decisions for themselves or care for their estate. An involuntary commitment occurs in a situation where your loved one is determined to need help for mental health treatment but is unwilling to ascent to this care on their own. In this situation, your loved one may not be incapacitated as we would see in a guardianship proceeding. He or she may simply need some medical help that would otherwise be unavailable but for the involuntary commitment.
This is a tough determination to reach on your own. It may look like your loved one is struggling with their mental health and their activities of daily living. However, it can be difficult to determine the extent of the care that he or she may need. An involuntary commitment is not appropriate for all people in all situations. An involuntary commitment should be seen as a last resort in situations where your loved one has become a threat to himself or others. Otherwise, there are resources which are available in the community that could better suit him or her and their needs.
Meeting with an experienced guardianship attorney with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan is a great way for you to determine whether an involuntary commitment, guardianship, or other arrangement on behalf of your loved one is in their best interests. You can meet with our lead guardianship attorney, Megone Trewick, at no charge. Ms. Trewick is not only experienced in this area of the law but she has made so much information available through our website about this subject. Please feel free to poke around our website to learn more about us and the services we can provide to you as one of our clients.
Above all else, we understand that facing the challenges that come with caring for a loved one with a mental illness is not easy. Many of the issues that you face can seem insurmountable if you are not aware of the community resources available to you. It may be that some services work better than others for your situation in your loved one. As a result, it is in your best interest and that of your loved one for you all to learn about as many of these services as possible so that you can determine which direction to go in when it comes to finding the appropriate care for him or her. The attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan are here to help you on the legal side of things should a guardianship or other arrangement become necessary. Thank you for spending time with us today here on our blog.
Questions about the material contained in today’s blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
If you have any questions about the material contained in today’s blog post please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed guardianship attorneys offer free-of-charge consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about guardianship and mental health issues as well as how your family could be affected if a probate case were to be filed.