LPS Act - Involuntary Psychiatric Treatment

Information for Patients’ Families

The Lanterman-Petris-Short Act (“LPS”) authorizes involuntary psychiatric treatment in very limited circumstances. The LPS Act was enacted in 1967 and sought to “end the inappropriate, indefinite, and involuntary commitment of persons with mental health disorders”. The LPS Act resulted in many individuals being released from state hospitals to live in the community. It is not possible to put a patient in a locked psychiatric facility based only on the request of a family member or friend. Being mentally ill by itself is also not sufficient grounds for involuntary treatment in a locked psychiatric facility.

How to initiate mental health services for a family member or friend
CALL: You or your loved one/friend may call 707-268-2900 to make an appointment for an assessment, to get qualified for Medi-Cal and/or to receive services, including psychiatric medication/s. 

COME IN: You may bring your loved one/friend to Same-Day Services located at 720 Wood St. during normal business hours, Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., with or without an appointment.

What to do if family member or friend is refusing to seek treatment
EMERGENCY: If your loved one/friend is refusing to make or come in for an appointment with a treatment provider, call 9-1-1 if it is an emergency. Law enforcement may write a “§5150” (WIC §5150) hold if your loved one/friend meets criteria which may result in involuntary psychiatric treatment at SV.

NON-EMERGENCY: If your loved one/friend is refusing psychiatric treatment, but it is not an emergency, you may call the law enforcement non-emergency phone number to request a welfare check. This may result in a §5150 hold but is not likely if the person is able to live safely in the community.

Most people receive involuntary psychiatric treatment at SV because they are put on a §5150 hold by law enforcement or a medical provider. Once a §5150 hold is written, DHHS-BH will assess the patient and determine if they can be served on a voluntary basis through outpatient services, or if involuntary treatment, at SV or another locked facility will be necessary.

Even if the patient is admitted to SV, they will receive treatment only long enough to stabilize their condition and will then be released. This is required by law. In some cases, the treating psychiatrist may be able to place the patient on subsequent psychiatric holds for continued treatment, and/or recommend an LPS conservatorship for additional treatment to occur.

Can I ask the court to put my family member or friend on an LPS conservatorship?
An LPS conservatorship is one of the psychiatric holds authorized by the LPS Act, lasts for up to one year, and can be renewed annually if the patient is still meeting the strict criteria for involuntary treatment. 

An LPS conservatorship is initiated in one of two ways:

  1. Patient is referred by DHHS-BH (usually as a result of receiving treatment at SV or the jail) to the Public Guardian (“PG”) for conservatorship; or 
  2. Patient is referred to the PG for a court-ordered investigation by the judge in criminal proceedings.

Once a referral is made, the PG investigates and only recommends LPS conservatorship if there are no less restrictive options available. Once PG files a petition for LPS conservatorship, the petition can then be denied or dismissed by the Court for a variety of reasons and is only granted in the most extreme cases.

How can I advocate for or against involuntary psychiatric treatment for a family member?
Receiving Information from Family
When determining whether a patient has a mental disorder, the law permits treatment providers, hearing officers and judges to consider the "historical course" of the patient's mental illness, including all information voluntarily provided by family [WIC §5008.2]. Family or friends may also provide information about their ability to assist the patient if they are released [WIC §5350(e)(2)]. 

Information from family may include records from previous psychiatric or medical providers, family history of mental illness, written statements, pictures and verbal reports of past experiences. This information may be mailed to DHHS-BH ATTN: SV at the address on the back of this pamphlet, or you may call Same-Day Services at 707-445-7715 to make a verbal report. 

Providing Information to Family
All information and records obtained in the course of providing services to either voluntary or involuntary patients are confidential. Information and records shall be disclosed to family only when authorized by the patient or by law. If the patient is a minor, ward, dependent, conservatee or deceased, information and records can be released when authorized in writing by the patient's parent, guardian, guardian ad litem, conservator or authorized representative or authorized to be released by a court order [WIC §5328(a)(2) & (4)].   

There are specific laws that permit information to be shared with family if a patient is admitted to SV. You may refer to the DHHS-BH pamphlet “Hearings at Sempervirens Under the LPS Act” for additional information regarding SV patient information that is shared with family [WIC §5328.1].