Your reality has spiraled downward to depths which were previously unimaginable to you. Perhaps you’ve lost your job, your home, the support of family and friends - no matter what has led you to where you are today, you fear you may do yourself or someone else harm as a result of your precarious mental state. In these situations, utilizing the Baker Act in order to keep yourself out of harm’s way is the best course of action, but most people are unfamiliar with the specifics surrounding this statute designed to safeguard a person from harming themselves or others in a period of mental instability. What exactly occurs after you Baker Act yourself?
The first step in the process is you getting yourself to a medical facility which accepts Baker Act cases. These facilities are usually hospitals with a psychiatric ward, and a phone call to your nearest hospital is the best way to find out which facilities in your area are able to handle Baker Act patients. Once you’ve determined which facility you will utilize, you should present yourself for admission and disclose to the attending nurse you are afraid you are going to harm yourself or someone else in your current mental state. This initiates the Baker Act process, and you will be admitted to the psychiatric unit for stabilization and evaluation.
Once you are admitted to a facility through the Baker Act, you are placed on a mandatory 72 hour hold during which time you will be locked down on the floor of the psychiatric ward. There is no way for you to voluntarily discharge yourself from the hospital during this time, so if you need to make any arrangements in order for your responsibilities to be handled during this time you should do so prior to your admittance. You will usually have limited and supervised access to a telephone during your time in the psychiatric ward, so you will be able to let loved ones know you are safe. During this 72 hour period you will be medically stabilized while the attending psychiatric physician evaluates your condition to determine whether any medications should be prescribed in order to restore mental stability so you may be safely discharged.
The Baker Act is a lifesaving tool for those of us suffering from a bout of mental instability as a result of our addictions. It provides a means for you to prevent yourself from taking any dangerous action which could result in harm to you or someone else while receiving psychiatric care so you can work to restore your mental stability. This is accomplished via a 72 hour mandatory hold within a psychiatric ward at a medical facility, during which time a psychiatrist will evaluate you and prescribe any necessary medication so you may be safely discharged. If you are in a particularly low point in terms of your mindset and fear you may harm yourself or someone else as a result of this mental state, you should absolutely avail yourself of the protections offered by the Baker Act. This will ensure your safety as well as provide an opportunity for you to get help for your mental health, perhaps even spurring you on to seek treatment for your substance abuse disorder! Do not delay in taking this step to secure your well-being, as it could be the difference between life and death.