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How to Manage the Arrest of a Loved One with Mental Illness

  • Birdsall Obear

The arrest of a loved one can cause great emotional distress. It may seem impossible to help. Here are steps you can take to help your loved one.

Handle Medication
If your detained loved one requires medication, he/she should inform the jail staff. If he/she does not inform the jail staff, you should contact their psychiatrist and request they inform the staff. Psychiatrists have no privacy law restricting this transfer of information, but if they refuse, you should get in touch with your family member’s doctor. Request the following information in written form:

  • Your loved one’s diagnosis
  • Loved one’s necessary medication
  • Doctor’s contact information
  • Your contact information

Work With an Attorney

One of the best things you can do for your loved one is collaborate with their attorney. Attend the initial hearing and introduce yourself. Let him/her know that you are happy to help in any way possible.

Show Up to Court
Show up with your loved one. One of the best things you can do is simply be there for them in a time of stress and confusion.

Prepare For Court
If your loved one must make a court appearance after being released, here are a few things you can do to lessen the stress:

  • Arrive early to make sure you find parking.
  • Drop and pick up him/her at the front of the courthouse.
  • Be aware that you may be asked to remove jackets and purses. If your loved one is uncomfortable with this, you can ask if you can carry his/her items in on their behalf.
  • You may be in court for several hours. Bring food, water, and any necessary medication.
  • Dress appropriately. Make sure the court knows you are being respectful and taking this seriously.

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