Mental health professionals weigh in on involuntary serving of commitment papers

RALEIGH, NC (WTVD) — Years ago, therapist Ashley Gilmore was in a counseling session when she was attacked by one of her clients.

“They got into the session really well,” Gilmore said, “And then they got aggravated by some of the questions asked during the session and attacked me.”

Gilmore’s experience is sufficient reason for a clinician, as defined by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, to petition the involuntary commitment process.

This flowchart explains the steps to take to get someone to commit involuntarily.

However, according to Gilmore, being attacked is not the only way for someone to get help if they are to be perceived as a risk or threat to themselves or others.

“I think it depends on their diagnosis,” Gilmore added. “For someone with depression, for example, you can tell when something isn’t right and their behavior may be off in some way. For a person with narcissistic personality disorder (they may think) it’s everyone else and not them. So I really think that it depends on the diagnosis the person has and on the instinct he has.”

In the most accessible pledges, a layperson or a doctor can petition the magistrate. From there, the magistrate will determine whether sufficient evidence is presented to grant the IVC. If approved, the person will be transported by the police to be evaluated for further investigation. This all happens before anyone is officially committed.

If examiners conclude that the person meets the criteria to be committed, then a hearing is held within 10 days by a district court to determine whether the person should actually be committed.

In other cases, an emergency request may be made if it is determined that the person needs to be hospitalized immediately.

On Monday, three Wayne County sheriff’s deputies were shot while serving involuntary commitment papers against 23-year-old Jourdan Hamilton in Dudley. One of those officers did not survive his injuries.

The tragic and unfortunate event renewed talks about joining mental health professionals to join law enforcement officers in serving such papers.

Long-time forensic psychiatrist Dr. George Corvin said he thinks having a mental health professional for these situations can certainly help, but there’s no way to know for sure.

“The fact is that (deputies) are not psychiatrists. And even as a psychiatrist, who finds himself in an unfamiliar situation, which is more often than not, you may not know what weapons are available with that patient and more often than not, no matter how much information there is. on the petition, there are a number of unknowns that you will be confronted with,” Corvin said. “We don’t know exactly what’s going on with that patient and what’s driving that patient in terms of their behavior, aggressive or otherwise.”

Ideally, Corvin would want law enforcement to be best prepared for these situations.

“In a perfect world,” Corvin added, “I think officers shouldn’t just have that (mental health) training to better recognize and respond to a threatening situation involving a mentally ill person in crisis. But I think it’s also advisable for them to have access to the petitioner and those who know more about that patient and his environment.”

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