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Understanding The Florida Baker Act

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The Florida Baker Act is a means provided by the state of Florida to help individuals who are suffering from mental health illnesses obtain emergency services.  This service usually includes a temporary detention for a full mental health evaluation and treatment if needed; this is either done on a voluntary or an involuntary basis.

Florida Baker Act vs. Marchman Act

Understanding the difference between the Florida Baker Act and Marchman Act (Florida’s Substance Abuse Impairment Act) can sometimes be a little confusing.  A Baker Act helps individuals who are suffering from mental health illnesses where the Florida Marchman Act deals with substance abuse, alcoholism, and drug addiction along with mental health issues. Both of these acts are used on either a voluntary or an involuntary basis, depending on the severity of the addiction or mental health disorder(s).

Even though the Marchman Act specifically deals with substance abuse, alcoholism, and drug addiction, many times The Florida Baker Act and Marchman Act are used interchangeably. In a Baker Act situation, the person is usually not held for more than 72 hours. This gives the family enough time to get their affairs in order and the hospital enough time to conduct a full psych evaluation and suggest a plan to manage mental health symptoms moving forward.

Voluntary vs. Involuntary Commitment

A voluntary Baker Act is when a person 18 years or older, or a parent/guardian of a person age 17 or under, checks themself in for a psychiatric diagnosis or treatment.

An involuntary Baker Act is when the person suffering from mental health illness is checked into a mental health facility for an involuntary psychiatric evaluation.  It is considered an involuntary situation because the person is mentally ill, and because of their mental illness, the person is unable to determine for themselves whether a psychiatric examination or treatment is needed or not. The facility has to take into consideration that without proper care or treatment, the person may cause serious bodily harm to themselves or others.

Getting Help For Mental Health Illnesses

Getting help for mental health illnesses is as serious as getting help for a heart condition, stroke, or cancer.  Ignoring warning signs that you or someone you love is suffering from a mental health disorder can lead to serious consequences like, drug or alcohol overdoses, attempted suicide, or death. Never should a mental health disorder be taken lightly.  For more information on the Florida Baker Act or mental health treatment, please call our free 24 hour helpline now 1-800-861-1768. It’s the difference between life and death.

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