She refuses treatment, what options do we have?

I have a family member that recently experienced a trauma in her life. Now, she doesn’t seem quite right and appears mentally unstable. She has threatened suicide several times. Although she is mainly withdrawn and subdued, sometimes she also lashes out angrily. We want to get her help but she will not voluntarily enter into treatment. Is there anything that can be done?

This is a difficult situation and it does sound like she could use some help. Obviously, it would be beneficial if your family could coax her into seeking treatment voluntarily.

However, it sounds like you have tried that and she is just refusing to explore treatment. In such a scenario, prosecutors, on behalf of the State, will sometimes initiate what is called a care and treatment case.

A care and treatment occurs when it is perceived that an individual poses a danger either to cause harm to self or to cause harm to others. Typically, the case originates with an initial hearing to determine if the individual can be held on a temporary basis pending trial.

If it is deemed that the person should at least be kept in involuntary treatment on a temporary basis, the case is set for trial. Trial usually occurs within a week or so of the temporary hearing.

At trial the prosecutor must prove that the individual poses a “danger to self and others.” The individual has a right to counsel and a right to testify at trial. If the State meets its burden, the individual is kept for further observation and treatment, usually at Larned State Hospital.

Eventually, most individuals receive the medication and therapy that they require and are integrated back into society in a timely fashion. The above procedures exist to protect everyone, including the one suffering from the mental illness.