Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
No. Mental habilitation cases are confidential. All hearings are closed to the public. Only the parties involved may see the case file.
Yes. Mental health cases are not confidential and are open to the public for review. Anyone can request to see any case files on record.
Mental Habilitation cases are initiated with the filing of a "Petition for Commitment of an Intellectually Disabled Person" and supporting "Affidavit of Petitioner" by a parent or guardian of the intellectually disabled person or by a representative of the Department of Human Services.
If a loved one or someone you live with needs help for a mental health problem, the person may go or be taken to a community mental health center. A doctor will examine the individual and determine if the person appears mentally ill and dangerous to self and/or others. The doctor will decide whether emergency hospitalization is needed.
You can contact the DC Department of Mental Health’s intake center at:
DC Department of Mental Health Mental Health Services Division 35 K Street NE Washington, DC 20001 202-442-4202
You may also call the District of Columbia’s 24-hour Mental Health Hotline: 1-888-7WE HELP or 1-888-793-4357
The Department of Mental Health may be able to help an individual with continuing support after they have been released from a mental health facility.
If you have been unsuccessful in getting a mentally ill person to a doctor for examination and treatment and you are a parent, spouse, or legal guardian of that person, you may file a petition to commit in the Central Intake Center (Moultrie Courthouse, room JM-540) of the DC Superior Court’s Family Court, 500 Indiana Ave., NW 20001, (202) 879-1212.
"After a person has been released from a mental health facility, the individual may need continuing support. Contact your local community mental health center for more information.
If the doctor determines that the person is mentally ill and needs be hospitalized, the person may be transported to St. Elizabeths Hospital. At St. Elizabeths Hospital, a psychiatrist will examine them and review the community mental health center's request for hospitalization. If the doctor at St. Elizabeths Hospital determines that the person has symptoms of a mental illness and is likely to injure himself or herself and/or others, the individual will be involuntarily hospitalized for a period set by the DC Law.
An individual may voluntarily admit him- or herself to a mental health facility for treatment. To be admitted to a private hospital, the person must have insurance or evidence of ability to pay. The public (i.e., no cost) mental health hospital in the District of Columbia is:
St. Elizabeths Hospital 1100 Alabama Ave., SE Washington, DC 20032 (202) 562-4000
In the event there is an immediate emergency, and the mentally ill person is refusing to go to a community mental health center, you can call the Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program (CPEP) at (202) 673-9319, which is open 24 hours a day. CPEP is located at the South Community Mental Health Center, 1905 E St., SEWashington, DC.
Under DC law, before a person can be committed and/or forced to accept treatment, the person must be found to be mentally ill and dangerous to self and/or others because of the mental illness.
"Danger to self" means if that person is not able to care for him- or herself or is likely to inadvertently place him- or herself in a position of danger or is likely to suffer harm. "Danger to others" means if the person is likely to perform some act or acts either intentionally or unintentionally to others and such act or acts may be either violent or nonviolent. Please note that drug addiction and alcoholism do not qualify as a mental illness.
"There are a number of centers. The office hours vary from center to center. Be sure to telephone before going to the center: Northeast Community Mental Health Center 35 K Street NE Washington, DC 20001 (202) 442-4215 Northwest Community Mental Health Center 1125 Spring Road NW Washington, DC 20010 (202) 576-6512 Multi-Cultural Center 1250 U Street, NW Washington, DC 20009 (202) 673-2058"
The Central Intake Center of the Family Court is located on the East Wing of the John Marshall level of the District of Columbia Courthouse, 500 Indiana Avenue NW, Room JM-520, Washington, DC 20001. Hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Phone: (202) 879-1212. Petitions to Commit can only be filed for a person needing mental health supports. Effective August 3, 2018, there will be no new civil commitments for people with an intellectual disability.