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SUPPORT/EDUCATION MEETINGS  About Mental Illness Medications 
M.Health Advance Directive Healthcare Surrogate Baker Act  Ex Parte



EMERGENCIES 911 l HELP LINE 727 791 3434


You can reach the NAMI Pinellas Helpline by telephoning (727) 791-3434.

What Does NAMI Pinellas Offer to Families of Persons with a Mental Illness?

NAMI Pinellas has many resources available for families, friends, and caregivers of persons with mental illnesses.........


At our Family Support Group meetings we share our experiences.
You will recognize the similarities, and appreciate hearing how others have dealt with their dilemmas.


At our Family Education Meetings Invited Guest Speakers expound on various topics from both within and surrounding Mental Health.
These include: Diagnosis, Treatment, Follow-up Care Programs, The Baker Act, and the Legal Process. 


Our Family-to-Family class is a 12-week education program designed to teach persons about the symptoms of mental illness, psychiatric medications, treatment options, communication skills, and coping mechanisms especially for families. NAMI Pinellas typically offers the Family-to-Family class twice a year.

Resources for Family Members and Friends

What is a Mental Health Advance Directive and Healthcare Surrogate?

If you believe you or a family member may be hospitalized for mental healthcare in the future, the completion of a psychiatric or mental health advance directive will help make your or your family member’s treatment preferences known. The healthcare surrogate form will help facilitate communications between families and healthcare providers.

For questions about the mental health advance directive or healthcare surrogates, please contact the NAMI Pinellas Helpline at (727) 791-3434.

What Families Need to Know About Psychiatric Advance Directives

Suggested form of a Health Care Surrogate, Florida Statutes Section 765.203 Designation of Health Care Surrogate

Mental Health Advance Directive Learn More

Why Doesn't My Family Member Understand That They Are Ill?

Anosognosia is a big word that refers to a condition that frequently occurs with a diagnosis of mental illness. With anosognosia, there is a lack of insight into many of the behaviors and symptoms of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. This is very different from denial and even mental health providers sometimes mistake anosognosia for a stubborn refusal to accept treatment.

While there is a growing body of information and research in regards to anosognosia, there is currently no cure. However, family members and friends can learn to work with their loved ones to help increase medication compliance and treatment adherence.

Dr. Xavier Amador is an expert in the field of anosognosia. You may want to check out his book I’m Not Sick. I Don’t Need Help from the NAMI Pinellas library and you can view a speech he made about the problem of "Lack of Insight" here..........

Where Can I Go to Learn About Psychiatric Medications?

Your first source for information about psychiatric medications should be your medical doctor or your ARNP. You may also want to speak with your local pharmacist if you have questions.

There are many different types of medications that help to treat the symptoms of mental illness. It’s important to remember that no medication works the exact same way with everyone. This is why it’s very important to stay in touch with your physician or ARNP and to let them know immediately if you or a loved one are experiencing any distressing side-effects.

There are a number of medication resources on the internet. A good place to start is the National Institute of Mental Health.

Remember though that your doctor is going to be your best resource for accurate and up-to-date information about medications.

What is the Baker Act?

The Baker Act refers to the Florida Mental Health Act—a law that governs the involuntary examination if a person may be a serious danger to themselves or others. This may also apply to persons who are likely to suffer from neglect or harm if a current behavior continues.

Persons with the authority to initiate a Baker Act include law enforcement officers, physicians, licensed clinical psychologists, psychiatric nurses, and licensed clinical social workers. An Ex Parte Order from the court is also a way of helping to get persons the help they need.

If you have any questions regarding Baker Act facilities in Pinellas County or the rights of patients and families you are encouraged to telephone our Help Line at (727) 791-3434.

Florida Baker Act........


Petition and afidavit seeking Ex Parte Order

Regarding Ex Parte:

If you feel that your loved one is suffering a Mental Health Crisis and you feel that he or she is a danger to themselves or to others you have the right to petition for an Ex Parte Order for involuntary examination. The petition and affidavit can be filed by any person who has first hand knowledge of the person’s recent behavior. You must provide proper identification for your acknowledgment before a Notary Public or Deputy Clerk
If you choose this course of action make sure you have good (documented if possible) proof of the symptoms, mental health history and behavior of the subject individual. You will have to attend the courthouse and be sworn in under oath but you will not appear in front of the judge.
Forms are available at the court and your signature will be witnessed by a court clerk.

PETITION AND AFFIDAVIT SEEKING EX PARTE ORDER REQUIRING INVOLUNTARY EXAMINATION. The petition and affidavit can be filed by any person who has first hand knowledge of the person’s recent behavior. You must provide proper identification for your acknowledgment before a Notary Public or Deputy Clerk.
You must swear in the petition and affidavit that you have witnessed the person causing harm to themselves or others and all other facts that will show the Judge that the person is mentally ill. You must also show that you have tried to convince the person to take a voluntary examination.
As soon as you file the petition with the Clerk of Court, they will bring it to the Judge’s Office for review, which will normally be completed by 4:00 P.M. the same day, so long as the petition is filed before 2:00 P.M.
COURT DETERMINATION. Relying solely on the contents of the petition, the Court will either: (1) enter an ex parte order authorizing the involuntary examination of the Person (2) set a hearing without entering an ex parte order, or (3) deny your petition.
(1) If the Court determines that the person meets the guidelines for involuntary examination, it shall enter an Ex Parte Order for Involuntary Examination. As soon as the order is entered, it will be delivered back to the Clerk of Court for preparation of a
Rev. 11/18/2005 2
packet for you to pick up and deliver to the Sheriff’s Office. You must provide the Sheriff’s Office with the location of the person so they may immediately pick that person up and transport them to the nearest examination and treatment facility. Please complete the LAW ENFORCEMENT INFORMATION SHEET and deliver to the Sheriff’s Office to assist them in identifying the person. If the person cannot be located by the Sheriff’s Office, they will hold the order for seven (7) days and continue attempts to take the person into custody. If they cannot locate the person after the seven day period, the order will be returned to the Clerk of Court as unserved.
Unless your petition is denied, the Court shall determine whether or not an attorney should be appointed for the Person. If the Court believes that the Person needs the assistance of counsel, the Court may appoint counsel for the Person without regard to the Person’s wishes.


Recommended Reading.   See Also: NAMI ADVOCATE

As a strong advocate of education about issues surrounding mental illness, NAMI Pinellas is often asked to recommend books about depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, and borderline personality disorder.

Our Bunny Rosenthal Memorial Library is available to all members and books may be checked out during our monthly support and education meetings. For more information, please contact Lynn Rosenthal.

Please find below a list of just a few titles we believe may useful to consumers, families, and healthcare providers.


Surviving Schizophrenia: A Manual for Families, Patients, and Providers

I’m Not Sick, I Don’t Need Help

I Never Promised You a Rose Garden

Bipolar Disorder

New Hope for People with Bipolar Disorder

Electroboy: A Memoir of Mania

The Bipolar Child: The Definitive and Reassuring Guide to Childhood’s Most Misunderstood Disorder

Borderline Personality Disorder

Get Me Out of Here: My Recovery from Borderline Personality Disorder


Brain Bondage

Crazy in America: The Hidden Tragedy of Our Criminalized Mentally Ill

Crazy: A Father’s Search Through America’s Mental Health Madness

My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey

Shock: The Healing Power of Electroconvulsive Therapy




NAMI MEETS WITH JAIL STAFF - By Judy Turnbaugh - April 25th '08


Florida Senate --   
Florida House of Representatives



Related Files

Psychiatric Advance Directive (PDF File)
Designation of Healthcare Surrogate (PDF File)
Petition and Affidavit Seeking Ex Parte Order Requiring Involuntary Examination (Word Document)

Related Links

Information About the Florida Baker Act
What Families Need to Know About Psychiatric Advance Directives
Families of People with Untreated Mental Illness

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