Friday, February 22, 2008


Getting Help for the Mentally Ill

Click here to read info on getting help for a loved one in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Updated 2/21/08

Getting Help for Loved Ones Who are Mentally Ill
An Action Plan for Helping those with Mental Illness
An Opinionated Guide by Bob Cardwell

Sad, but true....

For most families, when they think about getting help for a mentally ill love ones, they think of the state hospitals. This is understandable. The state hospitals get a lot of attention. They get a lot of money. Historically, and in the community’s collective memory, the state hospitals are where loved ones went when they were mentally ill. Most families can recall family histories where a grandparent, a cousin, a sister, parent, or other loved one went to a state hospital for help. This is not true in today’s treatment scheme.

The state hospitals are the treatment choice of last resort. They are not truly for the families. The state hospitals are an option [albeit the last choice] of community treatment providers. The community treatment providers only put a sick person in a state hospital when they can find no other option available. An admission to a state hospital is not based on the seriousness of the illness. The admission is based on many other factors such as: legal issues, political issues, need of subjects for research, criminal charges, and public outcry. The new system has pretty much eliminated problems with patient abuse and clear neglect, but the state hospitals offer little treatment for mentally illness other than forcing medications.
A mentally ill individual is much more likely to receive involuntary “treatment” in the local jail than in a state hospital. Sadly, there are many more mentally ill persons in jail being treated than in the state hospitals.

This is a plan for family members helping those with mental illness in Marion County, Indiana, or the Greater Indianapolis area. Please go here to read about some suggestions from a general standpoint or to find some ideas for your area.

My basic belief is that whenever possible, those with mental illness should take the responsibility for their own care. However, mental illness often robs individuals of their judgment and it becomes necessary for family and the community to intercede for the safety of the individual and the community.

I would like to start off with two names of the most knowledgeable and caring persons I know on matters of mental health. These persons are: Mike Trent, of Midtown Mental Health Center [ph 317- 630-7791] and Judy Spray, of the PAIR Mental Health Diversion Program [317- 327-6869]. I would certainly start with these two for ideas and guidance on helping a loved one into treatment.

If he is dangerous to himself or others, the family can seek an Emergency Detention to a mental health center. After a period of 72hrs, the hospital has to determine if he is dangerous as a result of mental illness. If so, the hospital can have him court ordered for long-term inpatient or outpatient treatment. This procedure must be initiated in cooperation with a mental health center as the petition for an emergency detention must have a doctor's statement, as well as a factual witness, and the agreement of the mental health center that they will hospitalize the person for a period of observation. There may be a fee charged by the mental health center for this service. Some mental health centers serving Indianapolis are:

Midtown MHC

Gallahue MHC/Community Hospital


Adult and Child MHC

Assorted Mental Health Providers

If the mentally ill person presents an immediate danger, one can always call 911 and explain that there is a mentally ill person in need who may harm themselves or others. The mentally ill person can be picked up by the responsible law enforcement officer and taken to the nearest appropriate treatment facility under provisions of the Immediate Detention Law. Another strategy is to avoid calling 911, if time and circumstances permit, and call the shift commander of the appropriate law enforcement district. This may permit the commander the time to exercise more judgment and discretion on what officers to send out and at what time. Working with caring law enforcement officers may lessen the trauma to the mentally ill person and facilitate the person gaining appropriate access to the right services. A mission of the Indianapolis law enforcement agencies are to encourage the notion of "community policing" and the problem of the mentally ill falls under this plan. To find the appropriate officer in Indianapolis, go to IMPD here.

If he is gravely disabled, the family can go to Probate Court and seek Guardianship over him. The court or his guardian can then sign him in for treatment. You will need to start with an attorney first.

If he has any pending criminal charges [probation, parole, court case], the court, parole officer, or probation officer can order him into treatment. IF he is in custody, email or call [317-231-8263], the jail and request that he be evaluated for treatment while in custody. It would also be advisable to notify the PAIR Mental Health Diversion Program, at 317-327-6869, and request an evaluation. To check if your loved one is in jail, go to MCSD here.

If he is a nuisance, the family, or any responsible party, can go to court and ask for a protective order. The court can order him to quit being a nuisance to the petitioner and order him into treatment. To get a protective order one has to go through the Marion Co. Prosecutor's Office and be a resident of the county. This person also has to be the offended party. There may be a charge for filing the petition. A person may qualify for free assistance in getting a protective order.

If the family has the means, they can hire an attorney for help. Check with the local bar association or with the local chapter of NAMI to find attorneys versed in this area of the law.
The Indiana Civil Liberties Union [ICLU] often investigates systematic problems with the delivery of mental health services to jail and prison inmates.

Finally, if all of the above doesn't work out, get an advocate. All of the mental health centers and courts are political entities who depend on funding and the good will of the public. You would be surprised how much a phone call from an advocate will help with your cause. Just look up the phone numbers, web addresses, or location; then write or call, but follow up and expect a response. Here are some possible advocates in no particular order:

Protection and Advocacy Agency of Indiana
or specifically with mental health treatment issues, go here.

Marion Co. Mental Health Association

Adult Protective Services

NAMI- National Alliance of the Mentally Ill

TAC- Treatment Advocacy Center

State Representatives

Federal Representatives

Judge Barb Collins, Marion County Superior Court
[Mental Health Expert and Advocate]
Court 8
City-County Bldg Room E-643
6th Floor, East Wing
(317) 327-3202

Mayor Greg Ballard

Governor Mitch Daniels

Misc. Helpful Indiana Resources

Read about The PAIR Mental Health Diversion Program here.

Read about mental health laws across the country here.

Good Luck and God Bless!
Bob Cardwell [email]

Updated 2/21/08

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