It’s challenging to tackle mental health issues in society when people with problems refuse to seek help. The situation is made even more a little complicated when someone with a serious mental condition is accused of putting their own or others’ lives in jeopardy.
In response to these concerns, some countries have passed legislation allowing for mandatory mental health tests. People with mental health problems can be temporarily committed to mental health institutions under the Baker Act, often known as the Florida Mental Health Act, passed in 1971. This is why it’s a good idea to keep Baker Act attorneys on your contact list for future reference.
What is the Baker Act, exactly?
With the Baker Act, certain people can be temporarily institutionalized if they fit specific criteria. Judges, mental health professionals, law enforcement officers, and physicians are among those who have access to it. More importantly, the legislation requires that such officials have reasonable reasons to conclude that the individual fits the Act’s requirements for mental disease.
There must be more than a suspicion of mental disease or a risk of damage for the regulatory standards to be met. Law demands “substantial” evidence, which goes far beyond mere doubt. There are no more involuntary commitments due to odd behavior, refusal to undergo mental examinations, periodic mood swings, or irrational behavior.
At least some evidence of a mental illness or a high risk of harming oneself or others must be present for a person to qualify. This usually needs recent actions that indicate danger.
The law specifies three requirements:
- There are reasonable grounds to assume the individual is mentally ill.
- The individual has refused or cannot determine whether a voluntary examination is required due to the mental disorder.
- Without therapy, the person risks being neglected or harming themselves or others shortly.
Will the Baker Act show on a person’s records?
According to hospitals and mental health specialists, patient records must be kept secure and out of the hands of anyone who isn’t allowed to view them. On the other hand, public access to police reports (“incident report”) addressing a detainee’s mental health assessment referral is permitted.
Police records may contain a notice of a Baker Act admission. However, because these are public data, sealing them may need other processes, assuming sealing is possible at all. This data may become available as a result of a background check conducted by an employer, potential employer, or likely landlord, depending on the depth of the statement.
If no content is judged harmful for the patient, the Baker Act gives patients a right of examination or reasonable access to their clinical records. An issue that arises here is figuring out what constitutes harmful behavior and what is just access.
Individuals have the right to view and acquire a copy of their medical information under the HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules. This is true for Baker Act records as well. Obtaining a copy of your records will cost you money and need you to sign a consent form. Legal action may be necessary if a facility or service provider refuses to deliver documents, notwithstanding your request for access or copies.