Frequently Asked Questions About the
Pennsylvania Mental Health Procedures Act of 1976

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The following overview is provided for informational purposes only. Please contact the County Mental Health Delegate or an attorney for a specific explanation of this law.

What is the Mental Health Procedures Act?

It is the statute concerning the voluntary and involuntary treatment of seriously mentally ill individuals in Pennsylvania. It applies to all psychiatric hospitalization in the state.

What is meant by a "201?"

Section 201 is that part of the Act relating to voluntary consent for a psychiatric examination and treatment. Anyone 14 years of age or older can consent to inpatient treatment. Admission is based on the determination of a psychiatrist that this level of care is needed.

What is meant by a "302?"

Section 302 is the part of the Act relating to treatment without consent for observed behavior constituting a clear and present danger to the individual and/or others. The behavior must have occurred in the past 30 days. Under Section 302(a) any responsible party can petition for an involuntary evaluation by stating that an individual may be severely mentally disabled.

What condition may result in an involuntary hospitalization?

Being severely mentally disabled and posing a clear a present danger to yourself or to others. This may include actual or attempted substantial self-injury, attempted or inflicted serious bodily harm to another, acting in a manner that indicates that you may not be able to take care of yourself without assistance, or attempting suicide or showing high risk of suicide.

What is a warrant?

Reports that someone is at risk because of mental illness go to the County Mental Health Delegate. If the Delegate determines that the behavior meets the Act's criteria a warrant is issued. This authorizes a representative of the County Mental Health Administrator or the police to take someone for psychiatric examination. No arrest or criminal charges are involved.


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