Pittsburgh: Healing or dehumanizing – Experts explore the rise in involuntary psychiatric commitment petitions

Involuntary psychiatric commitment is a form of medical incarceration where an individual is confined at a psychiatric hospital without their consent.

“Amanda, I’m so sorry. The cops are here.”

Panic shot through Amanda Wilson as she looked up from the hammock chair on the back deck of her Millvale home, taking in the grim expression on her mother’s face. It was the same look she wore during Wilson’s childhood when sharing that a relative had passed away. 

Afraid and confused, her mind raced to understand what the police could want from her on that July afternoon — she hadn’t committed a crime. Were her friends OK? Was somebody hurt?

Wilson met the officers outside her front door. They explained they’d be taking her to an evaluation at UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital, which would determine if she should be committed for involuntary psychiatric treatment. 

She had been “302ed” — a term that comes from the section of the state Mental Health Procedures Act that governs involuntary psychiatric examinations and care.”

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