City Cast

How Does Involuntary Mental-Health Commitment Work?

Scott Dickensheets
Scott Dickensheets
Posted on October 17
Illustration of a person having a breakdown.

When should a person in crisis be hospitalized against their will? (Klaus Vedfelt)

Following what appeared to be a public meltdown by former Raiders player Chandler Jones — during which he claimed to have been hospitalized against his will — Nevada psychotherapist Dr. Jim Jobin talked to City Cast Las Vegas podcast host Dayvid Figler (🎧) about involuntary mental-health commitment.

Tell us about the process of involuntary psychological commitments here in Las Vegas.

“Here we call it a ‘legal 2000.’ Basically, it requires a police officer, doctor, or mental-health professional. They evaluate you and realize you're a danger to yourself or we don't think you're capable of caring for yourself right now. That usually doesn't apply if we see, like, chronic mental illness, because we know that's a recurring problem. But if it seems acute and powerful right now, we can put you on hold for about 72 hours. Whether you like it or not, you're going. They're taking your shoelaces, they're giving you jello, and we're going to help you calm down and make sure you're safe.”

What does a person go through while they're in the hospital beyond the shoelaces and the jello?

“Well, the shoelace thing's real. We definitely take those. But, yeah, usually you're going to start in an ER. If you are rowdy, or don't seem capable of listening and staying still, it is possible that they may give you some medicine. And yes, that can happen against your will. Once things seem stable, a psychiatrist will decide where they're going to keep you for up to three days. Sometimes they'll transfer you to a mental-health hospital. You'll go to an inpatient floor that's very secured, very safe, making sure that nobody can find anything to hurt themselves with. It's not this 1950s insane asylum with the straps and straitjackets and padded rooms. It's really not that. It's a room with no corners. Everything has been sanded down to a rounded edge.”

For the layperson, what are the signs that someone might need to be committed (other than obvious suicidal or homicidal intent)?

“If somebody just seems out of sync with reality. If they're clearly not taking care of themselves. They're not eating, they're not bathing, they're saying strange and bizarre things, talking about fears, about realities that don't exist, if they're hallucinating or hearing voices that aren't there. Now, that doesn't mean we're going to commit them, because a lot of people live with chronic schizophrenia or psychosis. But if they can't seem to care for themselves, that's when you want to make a call.”

(Edited for length and clarity.)

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