Mental Health Procedures Act (MHPA)

Insight from Dedicated Mental Health Law Attorneys in Harrisburg

The Mental Health Procedures Act (MHPA) is the statute that specifically covers the process of voluntary and involuntary commitments of individuals with serious mental illness in the state. It covers all psychiatric-related hospitalizations in Pennsylvania.

If an individual is considered mentally disabled or to have a mental illness and presents a danger to themselves or others, they may be voluntarily or involuntarily commitment.

Examples of such dangers include:

  • Attempting to or inflicting self-injury
  • Attempting to or inflicting bodily injury to another
  • Attempting to commit suicide
  • Showing high suicidal risk
  • Any actions that indicate a person is not fit to take care of themselves

If a report is submitted to the County Mental Health Delegate and they determine the individual’ behavior meets the criteria outlined in the MHPA, a warrant for involuntary commitment may be issued. The person may then be brought in by police or an administrator for a psychiatric examination.

Section 201 vs. Section 302

The major differences between these Sections are that 201 refers to voluntary commitment and 302 refers to involuntary commitments.

Learn more about both sections below:

  • Section 201 – This part of the MHPA outlines voluntary consent for a psychiatric examination for a mentally ill individual. So long as the individual is 14 years or older, they can provide consent for any inpatient treatment determined necessary.
  • Section 302 – This part of the act outlines steps for commitment without consent due to observed mental illness and / or dangerous behavior towards themselves or others. Any behavior used to pursue such a commitment must have occurred within the last 30 days. Under this section, the involuntary admission period should not exceed 120 hours

If parties believe the admission period should be extended, they can do so under Section 303 (extended up to 20 days), Section 304b (extended up to 90 days), or Section 305 (extended up to 180 days).

Questions about MHPA? Need guidance through this time? Contact our Harrisburg mental health lawyers at (717) 775-7195 for a consultation.

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