mental health

BAKER ACT Back to School, Now What?

 BAKER ACT- Now What?

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 BAKER ACT Back to School, Now What?

Disclosure, what is it and do I have to do it?

An important decision students and their families face after a Baker Act is whether or not to disclose their mental health diagnosis and/or crisis experience with officials at the child’s school. Disclosure is a very personal choice and should definitely be an informed choice. There are no requirements that you disclose your disability/mental health status to anyone at any time, but if you choose to do so it can help expedite supports and open the dialogue for further assistance at school.

PROS- Support for the Student & Family Services in School Recovery

CONS- Continued Isolation Rehospitalizations Stigma or Unfair Judgments

What are the time boundaries for the person who has been sent for an involuntary psychiatric examination?

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According to Florida Statute 394.463 titled INVOLUNTARY EXAMINATIONS, an adult may be held at an approved psychiatric ward called a receiving facility for up to 72 hours for examination.

Under this same statute, the examination for a minor must be initiated within 12 hours after the patient’s arrival at the facility.

These times frames can be extended if the examination period ends on a weekend or holiday but in such a case the adult or child being held must be either released or a petition for involuntary services filed in the circuit court no later then the next working day.

12 AND 24 HOURS:

According to Florida Statute 394.459  Rights of patients, “each person who remains at a receiving or treatment facility for more than 12 hours shall be given a physical examination by a health practitioner authorized by law to give such examinations, within 24 hours after arrival at such facility.”

This is an important right and whether the person being held is an adult or child, this physical examination should be completed exactly as laid out in the Florida Administrative Code which clearly states under 65E-5.160 Right to Treatment that the physical examination required to be provided to each person who remains at a psychiatric receiving or treatment facility for more than 12 hours must include:

(a) A determination of whether the person is medically stable; and

(b) A determination that abnormalities of thought, mood, or behavior due to non-psychiatric causes have been ruled out.

While Florida requires that a physical examination be given for the express purpose of ruling out non-psychiatric causes, CCHR has found that this examination is NOT being administered with the intent of ruling out mock psychiatric symptoms caused by non-psychiatric medical illness, injury, metabolic disorders, and drug toxicity.

More than 100 medical disorders having been documented to mimic mental illness[i] and since there is a very real possibility that what seems to be a psychiatric problem is caused by some physical illness this exam needs to be performed with that stated intent.

Even more alarming, a recent study showed that individuals with serious mental illness were 3.5 times more likely to die than the general population, losing approximately 28.5 years of life[ii], primarily because of natural causes and those 8 million deaths[iii] could be averted if people with mental illness were to die at the same rate as the general population.

There are many different physical disorders that may lead a doctor to misdiagnose someone as having depression or bi-polar disorder such as influenza, infectious mononucleosis, viral pneumonia, cancer, sleep apnea and thyroid disease to name just a few.[iv]

Ideally the physical examination required in Florida Administrative Code 65E-5.160 Right to Treatment would be by a non-psychiatric and independent medical doctor and documented as having been administered to rule out non-psychiatric causes of thought, mood or behavior including the following tests to rule out physical ailments that can present as mental illness:

  • sTSH (thyroid test)
  • CBC (complete blood count)
  • SGOT (liver function test)
  • Serum albumin
  • Serum calcium
  • Vitamin B12
  • Urinalysis
  • 12 panel drug test

Support and Resources in Broward County Public Schools


At discharge, the facility may generate a SEDNET referral to possibly expedite supports at your school. If you would like more information, please contact SEDNET at 754-321-3421

BCPS Mental Health Portal

RESOURCES TO TURN ILLNESS INTO WELLNESS Broward County Public School’s Departments that can support you and your child after discharge from the hospital, transition back to school and post support in school.

Additional Resources

2-1-1 Broward: Behavioral Health Resources

24-Hour Helpline: Dial 2-1-1 or 954-537-0211

Family Network on Disability

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