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Heather Locklear was reportedly placed on psychiatric hold: What does that mean, exactly?

Korin Miller
·Writer
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Actress Heather Locklear has been placed on psychiatric hold after her therapist determined that she was having a mental breakdown, according to TMZ.

Locklear was at home on Sunday when her therapist and lawyer realized she needed help, TMZ reports. Someone called 911, and Locklear was reportedly taken to a hospital where she was placed on hold.

Sources tell People that Locklear had a fight with her boyfriend on Saturday, and she threw him out of her house. He then alerted her lawyer and doctor, who eventually placed her on a 5150 psychiatric hold.

The laws surrounding psychiatric holds vary by state, and a 5150 psychiatric hold is specific to the state of California. It states that when a person who has a mental health disorder is a danger to others or themselves, an expert (a “peace officer” or doctor) may ask that the patient be put into custody for up to 72 hours to be assessed and evaluated.

Actress Heather Locklear has been placed on psychiatric hold after her therapist determined that she was having a mental breakdown. (Photo: Getty Images)
Actress Heather Locklear has been placed on psychiatric hold after her therapist determined that she was having a mental breakdown. (Photo: Getty Images)

In California, the law states that patients must be informed what is happening to them, either orally or in writing, and told that they’re not under arrest — they’re being taken for an examination by a mental health professional.

“It was designed to provide safety to a mentally ill and compromised person while still preserving their civil rights and to deescalate a dangerous situation for that person or others around them,” Gail Saltz, MD, a psychiatrist and author of The Power of Different, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. After the 72 hours, “either a patient is deemed safe to go home with the care of others or, if not safe, a judge must decide based on the individual situation and the treating doctors concerns whether a 5250 is appropriate,” Saltz says. The 5250 “allows for the patient who again must be deemed a threat to themselves or others or gravely disabled to be held involuntarily for up to 14 days.”

The laws vary from state to state, but in general, a health professional “has a limited amount of time they can hold a patient,” clinical psychologist John Mayer, PhD, author of Family Fit: Find Your Balance in Life, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “In many states, it’s three days and then there is a court hearing in front of a judge to determine if the patient can be held any longer.”

Doctors don’t necessarily need to prove anything in particular when requesting a psychiatric hold for a patient, Simon Rego, chief psychologist at Montefiore Medical Center/Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “The assumption is based on their competency in the field,” he says. “A mental health professional is saying they need more information to either rule in or rule out certain factors that may make a person a danger to themselves or other people because of their mental health condition.”

Locklear’s lawyer is currently consulting Britney Spears’s conservatorship lawyers on next steps, according to Us Weekly.

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