In Defense of Florida’s Baker Act

Florida’s mental health law–the Baker Act–was in the news recently, when a 6 year old girl was forcibly hospitalized after an incident at school.

Although this case is odd, I think there are some redeeming things about the Baker Act.

I speak from experience. I have been involuntarily hospitalized over 10 times in Florida. I have, many, many times, hated the Baker Act.

But–here and now–I sit typing after having been in recovery for about a year. I wouldn’t have gotten the wonderful medication I am on if it wasn’t for the Baker Act.

At no time were my rights taken away. At no time was I recommended for long-term inpatient stays. At no time, in 10 years of battling schizophrenia, did doctors give up on me.

Instead, doctors tried medication after medication, hoping each time this would be the one for me.

It’s true. I hate going to the hospital. It has often felt like a violation of my rights. But every time I went inpatient, I was in an emergency crisis and really needed help.

It’s better than the alternative, too, which is jail. When we throw people with mental illness in jail, no one wins. I’d much rather be appropriately seen as having an illness that needs treatment and go to the hospital.

Psychiatry is not the enemy. Neither, when properly executed, is the Baker Act.

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