Filing Procedures -

Involuntary Mental Health Treatment

  Mental Health Services Brochure - from DWMHA

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Involuntary Commitment?

This is the process used in a probate court to help a person who may be mentally ill and harmful to self or others and refuses to seek treatment or whose judgment is so impaired they do not understand their need for treatment.   

How do I know if a person is mentally ill?

First, watch the person's behavior carefully.  If the behavior only occurs when the person has been taking drugs or using alcohol, the problem could be substance abuse, not mental illness.

However, if the behavior is continuous, and if the person threatens or actually harms him/herself or others, or whose judgment is so impaired that they do not understand their need for treatment, you may contact the Probate Court where the person resides or is found.   

Who should I call?

If you have been unable to get treatment for the person at a clinic or agency with a mental health professional, you may call the Mental Health Services Department of the Wayne County Probate Court at (313) 224-5825 between 8:00 AM – 12:30 PM and 1:30 PM - 4:30 PM, Monday-Friday, except holidays.

If the emergency occurs after business hours, you can call the 24-hour Emergency Telephone service at (313) 224-7000.  They will immediately refer you to a mental health facility. 

What will the Court’s Mental Health Services Department need to know?

Court staff will verify that you personally observed the behavior and that it happened recently.  You will be asked to describe the behavior in detail.

Court staff will also want to know the individual's substance abuse habits.  If the problem is determined to be substance abuse related, you will be referred to an agency in your area.

You will also be asked whether every effort has been made to get the person to voluntarily seek help.

What if the person needs further evaluation?

Court staff will tell you to come in person to Room 1307, Coleman A. Young Municipal Center, 2 Woodward Avenue, Detroit, MI to fill out a petition.  You will need to describe in writing:

1.  What specific symptoms and behaviors the person is displaying.

2.  What harmful or threatening behavior to him/herself or others did the person demonstrate that concerns you.

Petitions can be filed between 8:00 AM – 12:30 PM and 1:30 PM - 4:30 PM, Monday - Friday, except holidays.

What happens next?

You will be asked to complete a Petition for Mental Health Treatment. There is no fee.

Court staff will prepare a Supplement to Petition for Mental Health Treatment and Order.  You will then be sent to a Probate Judge (in the same building) where your petition will be heard.  If the Judge signs the Order to authorize a psychiatric evaluation, you will then return to the Mental Health Services Department where you will receive all of the completed paperwork to take with you.  You will then go home and call 911 (Detroit only) or visit your local police precinct to arrange for the person to be transported to a crisis center.

Where will the person be taken?

The police will take the person to any emergency department. What happens at the crisis center hospital?

The hospital will perform a psychiatric evaluation within 24 hours and will decide whether the person needs treatment.

What if the hospital determines that the person does not require hospitalization?

If the person does not require hospitalization, or is diagnosed as having a substance abuse problem, the hospital will release the person.  Sometimes the hospital will recommend outpatient treatment.

And if the person is diagnosed as requiring treatment?

Then the person will be sent to a designated hospital for necessary care.

Who makes the decision to hospitalize the person for psychiatric treatment?

The hospital director and the Court are authorized to recommend hospitalization or release.

How long will the person be kept in the treatment facility?

The Court may order up to 60 days of treatment on the initial admission order, but the hospital makes the final decision.

Could it be longer?

Yes.  The hospital may petition the Court for continued treatment.  The Court will then hold a hearing to decide whether to grant the petition or discharge the patient.

IMPORTANT:  The person who originally filed the petition must attend the hearing.

If you need more information about getting help for someone who may need mental health treatment, call the Detroit-Wayne Community Mental Health Agency (CMH) at (313) 833-2500 or the Mental Health Services Department of Wayne County Probate Court at (313) 224-5825.  Also, consider visiting the CMH website at 

Rev 3/17