#JusticeinPimaCounty: Week 68
Arizona law is full of statutes designed to protect the public from harm and promote public safety and accountability, including measures aimed at keeping people safe from themselves and others.
Under Arizona law, Title 36 is an important tool to address members of our community who, due to mental or emotional issues, present a threat to themselves or to others, providing a path to treatment and the best possible outcome for them and those around them.
Our Health Law Unit, part of PCAO’s Civil Division, provides an array of services to the residents of Pima County, including legal advice and support to the Pima County Health Department relative to the containment of infectious diseases, the forfeiture of dangerous or neglected animals, and the protection of public health records
And, activities under Title 36.
That statute allows our office to pursue court orders for involuntary mental health evaluations and subsequent treatment of people whose untreated mental illness is likely to lead to severe harm to themselves or pose a danger to others.
Court-ordered mental health evaluation and treatment is a vital function for providing a safe place for people who may need behavioral health care and psychiatric services. Patients are fully assessed by mental health professionals who work in multi-disciplinary teams that include behavioral health agencies and other health care professionals equally committed to the best outcome for the patient.
Title 36 comes into play when someone in Pima County is determined to be a danger to themselves or to others, if they are acutely or gravely disabled, or if they are unable to take care of their own needs or make sound treatment decisions for themselves. The Health Law Unit works to ensure that these Pima County residents receive evaluation and, if needed, treatment in the least restrictive manner with the shortest hospitalization possible.
The law allows any responsible person to apply for a court-ordered evaluation of someone who is unwilling or unable to undergo a voluntary mental health evaluation. In Pima County, this begins with a call to Southern Arizona’s Community-Wide Crisis Line, which is available around the clock to assist with mental health crises. Call (520) 622-6000 or (866) 495-6735.
Our community is a safer place for all when we work with one another to assist those in need.
Sam E. Brown