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Crisis Services - Baker Act

What is the Baker Act?

The Florida Mental Health Act, commonly referred to as the Baker Act, focuses on crisis services for individuals with mental illness, much like an emergency department is for individuals experiencing a medical emergency.

What are the Criteria for a Baker Act?

An individual may be taken to a receiving facility for involuntary examination under the Baker Act if:

  • There is reason to believe he/she has a mental illness and due to the mental illness, the individual has refused or is unable to determine if examination is necessary; and either;
  • Without care or treatment, the individual is unlikely to care for themselves which can result in substantial harm to their well-being, and it is not evident that harm can be avoided through familial intervention or other services; or
  • It is likely, based on recent behavior, that without treatment, the individual will pose a serious threat to themselves or others.

Who Can Initiate a Baker Act?

Once it is determined that an individual appears to meet Baker Act criteria the involuntary examination process can be initiated by the court, law enforcement, or a qualified medical or mental health professional.

Language Matters

Stigma causes individuals to feel shame and keeps them from seeking help. Here are a few helpful things that we can do to reduce stigma around mental illness:


Describing someone as 'living with' or 'diagnosed with' a mental illness.

Using adjectives like 'unusual' or 'erratic' when describing behavior.

Using psychiatric or medical terminology correctly and in the proper context.


Using words like 'crazy', 'psycho', 'schizo'', or 'lunatic' to describe a person with a mental illness.

Using words like 'crazed', 'deranged', 'mad', 'psychotic' to describe unusual or erratic behavior.

Using diagnoses out of context as with 'psychotic dog', or using 'schizophrenic' to denote duality.

Content retrieved from: Language and stigma | everymind - local

Florida at a Glance

In Fiscal Year 2019-2020*, across age groups, more men (53.48%) than women (45.91%) had involuntary examinations. This is the same pattern for people 18-24 and 25-64. Involuntary exams for older adults are almost equally divided between men (49.12%) and women (50.57%). Involuntary exams for children were more likely to be for girls (55.39%) than boys (44.19%). The infographic below provides an overview of highlights from the Fiscal Year 2019-2020 Baker Act Annual Report

Baker Act Annual Report icon of infographic

Previous Baker Act Annual Reports

Florida Baker Act Laws and Rules