Seals of the Court of Appeals and Superior Court
District of Columbia Courts
Mental Health and Mental Habilitation

Mental Health matters are those relating to the hospitalization and continued treatment of people found (by a judge) to be in need of mental health services. Mental Habilitation matters are those relating to people with an intellectual disability.

How do I ...

get assistance for a family member who appears to have a mental illness?
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. You may also contact the District of Columbia's 24-hour Mental Health Hotline: 1-888-7 WE HELP/ 1-888-793-4357 or the Mobile Crisis Center at 202/673-9300. 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. 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.

determine if someone could be considered a danger to self and/or others as a result of the mental illness?
“Danger to self” means that the 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 are likely to suffer harm. "Danger to others" means that 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.

initiate the commitment process for a person with mental illness?
If you desire to initiate the process and you are a parent, guardian or spouse, you can file the petition yourself in the Central Intake Center of the DC Superior Court’s Family Court (Moultrie Courthouse, JM-540). The person for whom treatment is sought must be examined by a doctor to determine if the person suffers from a mental illness and presents a danger to self and/or others prior to the filing of the petition.

get assistance for a person with an intellectual disability?
You may contact the Department of Disability Services at: 250 E Street SW, Washington DC 20024; (202) 730-1700; or online at Please note that, effective August 3, 2018, there will be no new civil commitments for people with an intellectual disability.

Volunteer Advocate Program

The D.C. Superior Court Mental Habilitation Volunteer Advocate Program seeks volunteers to serve as advocates for individuals with intellectual disabilities whose cases are reviewed by the court.

Mission of the program:

The mission of the program is to help individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities to live their lives to the fullest. Advocates are committed to ensuring that their clients are receiving appropriate care and services. They serve as a liaison between their clients, the court, and the community by monitoring the services their clients receive and advocating for additional services as needed.

Advocates are expected to:

  • Visit clients at their place of residence or day program twice a month to monitor their client's care.
  • Provide status reports to the court about the care and services their client receives.
  • Work with attorneys, social workers, provider agencies, and others to advocate for their client.
  • Participate in court proceedings involving their client, generally once or twice a year.

For More Information:

If you’re interested in becoming an advocate or learning more, please contact:

Mrs. Lashon Brown-Woodman
Mental Habilitation Volunteer Advocate Program
D.C. Superior Court
Email: VAP [at]
Phone: 202-879-0201

Family Court

Presiding Judge: Hon. Darlene M. Soltys
Deputy Presiding Judge: Hon. Kelly Higashi
Director: Avrom D. Sickel, Esq.
Deputy Director: Toni F. Gore

Moultrie Courthouse
500 Indiana Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001

Get Directions
Hours of Operation

8:30 am to 5:00 pm

Telephone Numbers
(202) 879-1212


Mental Habilitation Advocate Program:
(202) 879-0201