This information applies only to Illinois law. If your question is
about someone who is not a resident of Illinois, we suggest that you
contact a local or state bar association where that person lives.
Mental health law in Illinois is governed primarily by the Illinois
Mental and Developmental Disabilities Code. The Code guarantees certain
Constitutional rights and privileges for all who receive mental health
If you have a relative or friend who you believe is mentally ill and may
need to be hospitalized, you should be aware that there are four ways in
which a person may be admitted to a mental health facility under the
- A person may be admitted by so called "informal admission." An
informal admission to a mental health facility occurs when a person who
is in need of mental health treatment is admitted to the facility upon
his or her own request.
- An individual may be admitted under the so called "voluntary"
admission to a facility. With voluntary admission to a mental health
facility, an individual completes an application for treatment on behalf
of himself or herself. Only a person 16 years of age or older may
complete an application for voluntary admission.
The primary difference between a person who is an informal admission and
a person who is a voluntary admission is the length of time it would
take for that person to be discharged from the facility. A person who is
informally admitted would be discharged on the business day immediately
after the day on which he or she requests to leave. A voluntary patient
may be held for up to five days excluding Saturday, Sundays or holidays
following the day on which he or she requests discharge.
- A person may be admitted to a hospital by "involuntary admission,"
which involves application by an "interested person" to have someone who
is mentally ill admitted to a facility when he or she does not have the
capacity to do so voluntarily and/or does not want to be admitted.
Involuntary admission requires a certificate by a physician, clinical
psychologist, social worker or nurse who is considered a "qualified
examiner." The qualified examiner must determine that the individual is
mentally ill and dangerous, or mentally ill and unable to care for
himself or herself. The examination and certificate for purposes of an
involuntary admission must take place no more than 72 hours before the
time the individual is admitted to a mental health facility. In this
case, both the applicant and the individual to be admitted must be 18
years of age or older.
- A person may be involuntarily admitted to a mental health facility
by court order in emergency situations. This method should be pursued if
a person exhibits harmful behavior to self and/or others. If you believe
that there is a need for an emergency admission, you should contact the
State's Attorney in your county. The Cook County State's Attorney's
Mental Health Division is located at 28 North Clark, Suite 400. The
telephone number is (312) 345-2433 during the week. For weekend
emergencies, you can call (312) 890-3020 for assistance. If the
situation requires action, the State's Attorney is authorized to request
a court order which would allow the police to take a severely mental ill
person to a facility. The person will be examined within 24 hours of the
If you have questions about any of the admission options presented on
this tape, you may contact the Illinois Department of Mental Health or
an attorney knowledgeable about mental health law for further details.
The telephone number for the Department of Mental Health is (312)
814-4964. That number again is (312) 814-4964.
If outpatient mental health treatment is necessary, there are a number
of community mental health agencies in Chicago and adjoining counties
which will provide mental health services on a sliding fee schedule. You
can locate one of these agencies in the telephone book or by calling the
Illinois Department of Mental Health Client Assistance Program. The
Chicago number is (312) 814-4964. In Springfield the number is (217)
If you believe that your friend or relative does not have the ability to
manage his or her personal or financial affairs, you should consult an
attorney to determine whether a guardian would be helpful or necessary.
An attorney trained in the area will be able to take the necessary steps
to have the court appoint a relative or other person to act as the
guardian for the mentally ill individual. After a court hearing, the
guardian will be authorized to manage the individual's financial and/or
personal affairs under the supervision of the court.
If there is no willing or available relative or friend to act as
guardian, the Office of State Guardian or the Office of the Public
Guardian of Cook County can serve as the guardian. The Office of State
Guardian telephone number is (312) 793-5900. The office of the Cook
County Public Guardian telephone number is (312) 609-5300. You can also
obtain additional information about guardianships by listening to
Dial-Law number 35.
If you have questions regarding the rights of individuals receiving
mental health or developmental disability's services, you may contact
the Guardianship and Advocacy Commission at (312) 793-5900 or Equip for
Equality at (312) 341-0022.