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If you need immediate help, call the Crisis Clinic at:

206-461-3222

King County Crisis and Commitment Services (CCS) offers services for people who are in a behavioral health crisis. CCS provides:


Evaluation of people with behavioral health disorders for involuntary detention in psychiatric facilities according to the State of Washington law. The law for adults is RCW 71.05. For youth 13 through 17 years of age the law is RCW 71.34.

Crisis and Commitment staff who perform these duties are referred to as Designated Mental Health Professionals (DMHPs).

King County Crisis and Commitment Services are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Phone: 206-263-9200
Fax: 206-205-5192

FAQs about involuntary treatment
and mental illness laws

Joel’s Law FAQs for King County - Filing a Petition for Initial Involuntary detention of a Family Member (updated 7/29/15) 

Often it is the family and others close to the person with behavioral health problems who first notice the changes that identify the need for professional help.

Early warning signs may include:

  • change in sleep patterns - waking up many times during the night, sleeping a lot during the day or getting hardly any sleep at all
  • being socially withdrawn from others - stops seeing friends or loses interest in his/her appearance
  • unable to function at work or in school - missing days from work/school or losing their job
  • talks about things that don't make sense - laughs or mumbles to themselves, speech may be very fast and/or the person seems to jump from one subject to another
  • may have unusual beliefs - thinks that others are after them or plotting against them or that their mind is being controlled by an outside force or that someone is putting thoughts into their mind.

It is common for the person to express fear and pain through anger and suspicion towards those closest to them. It is important the family try to focus on their feelings rather than on angry behavior, as the person might respond to loved ones' suggestion that they get professional help, either in the community or in the hospital.

Contact the Crisis Clinic at 206-461-3222. This is the centralized access point for all telephone crisis services in King County, including for children. A trained Crisis Clinic volunteer worker will gather information about the recent behavior and assess what the appropriate next step is.

If the situation needs an evaluation by the DMHP your contact information will be forwarded to King County Crisis and Commitment Services. The DMHP on duty will contact you and gather additional information.

Under state behavioral health laws (RCW 71.05 and RCW 71.34), there are the specific circumstances where a person can be detained for involuntary hospitalization:

  • threatened harm towards others or themselves
  • substantially damaged someone else's property
  • endangered because they are not caring for their basic needs such as eating, sleeping, clothing and shelter
  • demonstrate severe deterioration in functioning ability and are not receiving essential care

    AND

  • The above is due to a behavioral health disorder

If imminent danger exists, the person will be immediately detained and placed into an Evaluation and Treatment facility for up to 72 hours.