Involuntary Commitment: What is the Law? What Are Your Rights?

Protecting oneself or one's loved ones from involuntary commitment, which affects more than 155,000 Californians a year, was the subject of a community forum at the Church of Scientology Pasadena.

Treatment Advocacy Center gives California an "F" grade

​Citizen Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) Los Angeles chapter organized a forum at the Church of Scientology Pasadena on a vital subject: how to protect oneself and one’s loved ones from involuntary commitment.

Treatment Advocacy Center gives California an “F” grade based on violations of human rights and inhumane treatment of patients under the state’s involuntary commitment law, indicating the importance of being informed on this subject.

The forum featured an attorney who never knew the extent of the abuse of “involuntary holds” until she worked on the CCHR International mental health abuse hotline.

She explained that prior to the Lanterman–Petris–Short (LPS) Act of the late 1960s, now codified in Welfare and Institutions Code Sections 5150, 5151 and 5152 and commonly referred to as Section 5150, patients could be held involuntarily for life without any procedures in place to uphold their human and civil rights.

Section 5150 was intended to rectify this. Instead, such commitments have skyrocketed to more than 155,000 annually.

What changed? Profit. Persons can now be involuntarily detained in private pay hospitals, as opposed to state hospitals.

Most of those detained have no knowledge or understanding of the many civil and human rights they are entitled to by the LPS Act. Many are misled about their rights.

Those attending the forum came away with a new perspective and increased awareness on this subject. One stated, “I never realized what was going on until today.”

Anyone needing help to deal with a 5150 hold on themselves or a loved one and those wishing to report any known or suspected abuse in the field of mental health should visit the CCHR International website, call the hotline at (323) 467-4242 or (800) 869-2247, or email 

Citizens Commission on Human Rights is a nonprofit charitable mental health watchdog cofounded in 1969 by the Church of Scientology and professor of psychiatry Dr. Thomas Szasz. It is dedicated to eradicating psychiatric abuse and ensuring patient protection. With headquarters in Los Angeles, California, CCHR International guides a global human rights advocacy network of some 180 chapters across 34 nations. CCHR Commissioners include physicians, psychiatrists, psychologists, lawyers, legislators, government officials, educators, and civil rights representatives.