When an individual is involved in a serious and potentially life-threatening psychiatric emergency or severe behavioral health crisis and is unwilling to consent to treatment, Pennsylvania law empowers the Montgomery County Office of Mental Health/Mental Retardation – Drug and Alcohol Services to authorize treatment without an individual’s consent. This process is known as a civil or involuntary commitment. It is also often called a “302” commitment, which refers to a section of the Mental Health Procedures Act.
Involuntary intervention occurs if an individual behaving in a manner that is a “clear and present danger” to himself or herself or others and is observed by one or more individuals willing to attest to what they have witnessed.
Involuntary intervention is always trying and traumatic. A psychiatric emergency is one of the few health problems that may result in someone being helped against their will. Personal rights must be balanced with the obligation to protect those unable to help themselves and those who may be endangered by their actions.