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What Is the Baker Act?

Helping family members to better care for their loved ones struggling with mental illnesses is the primary goal of the Baker Act.

If you are trying to connect your loved one with mental health treatment, this piece of legislation is designed to give you the tools to do that — even if your loved one is refusing to get treatment due to the nature of their mental illness.

Baker Act

The Baker Act supports and encourages voluntary psychological treatment for individuals who need it but provides a means by which families of people with severe mental illness may be able to help them get care when their mental illness is stopping them from entering treatment.

Essentially, if your loved one is refusing treatment due to the symptoms of their mental illness — for example, they would be able to recognize the need for treatment if they were not living with that mental illness — the Baker Act makes it possible for family members to involuntarily connect them with treatment.

What Are the Requirements of the Baker Act in Florida?

This law is designed primarily to protect the patient, helping them to get the treatment they need to heal even if the very illness they need treatment for makes them think that they don’t need care.

First, it must be proven or clear that the individual has a mental illness. Next, the reason that the person is refusing to get treatment must be because of their mental illness, either because they cannot reason through the issue or because their illness is such that they feel they do not need to get better.

Lastly, it must also be shown that the person will suffer harm if they do not get the treatment they need. That is, some evidence that they will hurt themselves or others may be required by the judge.

Note: The Baker Act does not apply to those who are struggling with substance abuse issues, developmental disabilities, or who exhibit antisocial behaviors.

What Happens After the Baker Act?

If you are able to use the Baker Act to help you connect your loved one with the mental health intervention they need, the hope is that they will be able to get help afterward. This will be contingent upon a number of factors, however, including the resources of the family to pay for treatment, the availability of treatment (such as openings or beds in a facility), and whether or not treatment is effective the first time around.

Do You Need Help Utilizing the Baker Act?

Learn more about how we can help you invoke the Baker Act to support your loved one when you contact us at Florida Healthcare Law Firm today.