Pennsylvania Mental Health Law

Section 302 Pennsylvania is a statute that provides for involuntary mental health assessment and stabilization. It may also be applied to help a loved one battling substance abuse issues as part of a strategically caring professional intervention plan of action. Although we are not lawyers, we can help you explore strategies to work ethically and effectively to address both debilitating symptoms of mental illness and hard to reach self-medicating behaviors.

Proudly serving communities in the greater Philadelphia and Pittsburgh areas, we help you and your family break through some of the most seemingly impenetrable walls of resistance, denial, and even bureaucratic red tape with strategically caring and comprehensive professional intervention services. Instead of waiting for the next mental health or substance abuse crisis to happen, you can take action now! The Behavioral Help Solutions team looks forward to the opportunity to be there with you and your loved one in crisis all the way. There is hope.

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302 Involuntary Commitment Order Pennsylvania

Section 302 Pennsylvania refers to the statute that provides for involuntary mental health assessment in the State of Pennsylvania for persons who are dangerous to themselves or others due to mental illness, thereby establishing the legal framework to filing a petition to initiate the process. Dangerous is determined based on the following criteria:

  • Danger to self shall be shown by establishing that within the previous 30 days:
  • The person would be unable without the care, supervision, and assistance of others to satisfy his/her need for nourishment, personal or medical care, shelter or self-protection or safety, and that death or serious physical debilitation would occur within 30 days unless treatment was provided;
  • The person has attempted suicide, or the person has made threats to commit suicide and committed acts in furtherance of the threats; or
  • The person has mutilated himself/herself or has made threats to mutilate and committed acts to further the threats.

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Danger to others shall be shown by establishing that within the previous 30 days, the person has inflicted or attempted to inflict serious bodily harm on another or has threatened serious bodily harm and has committed acts in furtherance of the threat to commit harm to another.

Because this commitment is involuntary, it may require family, crisis professionals, police, ambulance, and any other person involved in the crisis.

In every 302, a petitioner is required to sign the 302 and appear at a hearing, if necessary. A petitioner must have first-hand knowledge of the dangerous conduct and be willing to go to an emergency room or the Office of Behavioral Health (OBH), located at One Smithfield Street, to sign the 302 form.

The petitioner may be required to testify at a hearing regarding the dangerous conduct that he or she witnessed. A police officer or a doctor has the authority to initiate a 302 without prior authorization from the OBH delegate.

Once a 302 is authorized, the individual will be taken to an emergency room by the police or ambulance for an evaluation by a physician to determine if they need to be admitted for involuntary psychiatric inpatient treatment. If the individual is admitted, they may be kept no longer than 120 hours unless the hospital files a petition for a 303, Extended Emergency Involuntary Treatment.

State laws are in place to support court-ordered involuntary treatment. Nevertheless, careful planning with a unified approach is essential for successfully using the laws to significantly increase the long term prognosis for your loved one’s recovery. Although we do not provide legal advice, we do provide services to help support the recovery process for all impacted by mental illness and substance abuse throughout the State of Pennsylvania.

You can take action now, before the next crisis.

Call us today for a caring and confidential consultation (561) 971-9779.