- Voluntary commitment
Voluntary commitment is the act or practice of a person being admitted to a
psychiatric hospital, or other mental health facility, voluntarily, and without the process of involuntary commitment. Unlike in involuntary commitment the person is free to leave the hospital against medical advice, though a period of notice, or the requirement that the leaving take place during daylight hours, is sometimes required.
In some jurisdictions a distinction is drawn between "formal" and "informal" voluntary commitment, and this may have an effect on how much notice the individual must give before leaving the hospital. This period may be used for the hospital to use involuntary commitment procedures against the patient. People with mental illness can write
psychiatric advance directivesin which they can, in advance, consent to voluntary admission to a hospital and thus avoid involuntary commitment.
In the UK, people who are admitted to hospital voluntarily are referred to either as "voluntary patients" or "informal patients". These people are free to discharge against medical advice, unless it is felt that they are at immediate risk, then a doctor can use
mental health lawto hold people in the hospital for up to 72 hours. [In England and Wales this is authorised under Section 5 of the Mental Health Act 1983] People who are detained by mental health law are referred to "formal patients".
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