Why Is The Baker Act So Important?
The Baker Act, also known as the Florida Mental Health Act of 1971, is extremely important because it lays the groundwork for the voluntary or involuntary emergency admission of those suffering from mental illnesses. By standardizing rules and regulations surrounding the commitment of qualified patients, much uncertainty in the mental health industry to that point was resolved.
Further, the Florida Department of Children and Families was installed as the regulatory body to oversee the program and licensed facilities. This oversight has proved very useful in ensuring proper licensure for receiving facilities and most importantly, proper care for clients. The Baker Act offers a clear path, as well as rules and regulations, defining appropriate actions by law enforcement and mental health professionals. It also outlines clients’ rights when they are admitted into a mental health facility under the act’s guidelines.
Today, the Baker Act is a template for both voluntary and involuntary committal to a mental health facility in many jurisdictions throughout the United States. It has become a very valuable resource in the treatment of patients who have proven to be a threat to others and themselves. As treatment in the mental health field evolves, so too will the legislation accompanying it. However, the longevity of the Baker Act, in substantially the same form as when it was first adopted, is testament to its relevance and effectiveness.
The Academy for Addiction Professionals has recently launched a two hour continuing education course on The Baker Act. This course is very useful for professionals in the mental health, substance abuse and medical fields to gain a deeper understanding of the tenets and intents of The Baker Act.