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Placement in a mental health facility may be made through either a voluntary or involuntary commitment. Involuntary commitment usually requires a number of protective safeguards, including a court hearing, the appointment of counsel, and the meeting of a statutory criterion such as danger to self or others. Voluntary commitment is much more informal, with a written application and clinical assessment being all that is normally required. Most voluntary commitments are made upon application.of a patient who has the ability to give informed consent. But in a substantial number of states an individual also may be committed by his or her guardian, in some cases with little or no court oversight.



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