Code of the District of Columbia

§ 21–511. Voluntary hospitalization and treatment.

(a) A person may apply to a public or private hospital, the Department, or any mental health provider in the District of Columbia to become a voluntary patient for the purposes of observation, diagnosis, and care and treatment of a mental illness. Upon the request of a person 18 years of age or over, or, in the case of a person under 18 years of age, of the person’s spouse, parent, or legal guardian, the administrator of the public hospital to which application is made shall, or the administrator of a private hospital to which application is made may, admit the person as a voluntary patient to the hospital for the purposes described in this section, in accordance with this chapter, if an examination by an admitting psychiatrist or an admitting qualified psychologist reveals the need for hospitalization.

(b) If an examination reveals that the person requesting admission is not in need of hospitalization but is in need of outpatient treatment, the administrator of the hospital to which the application was made, or his designee, shall facilitate the admission of the person for voluntary outpatient treatment to the Department, a core services agency, or another provider. A person who is under 18 years of age may, consistent with the provisions of the Mental Health Service Delivery Reform Act of 2001, effective December 18, 2001 (D.C. Law 14-56; D.C. Official Code § 7-1131.01 et seq.), seek and consent to outpatient mental health services and mental health supports.


(Sept. 14, 1965, 79 Stat. 752, Pub. L. 89-183, § 1; Feb. 24, 1984, D.C. Law 5-48, § 11(a)(6), 30 DCR 5778; Apr. 4, 2003, D.C. Law 14-283, § 2(f), 50 DCR 917.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 21-511.

1973 Ed., § 21-511.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 21-512.

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 14-283 rewrote the section which had read as follows: “§ 21-511. Voluntary hospitalization.” “A person may apply to a public or private hospital in the District of Columbia for admission to the hospital as a voluntary patient for the purposes of observation, diagnosis, and care and treatment of a mental illness. Upon the request of such a person 18 years of age or over, or, in the case of a person under 18 years of age, of his spouse, parent, or legal guardian, the administrator of the public hospital to which application is made shall, if an examination by an admitting psychiatrist or an admitting qualified psychologist reveals the need for hospitalization, or the administrator of the private hospital to which application is made may, admit the person as a voluntary patient to the hospital for the purposes described by this section, in accordance with this chapter.”

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 2(e) of Mental Health Commitment Emergency Amendment Act of 2002 (D.C. Act 14-265, January 30, 2002, 49 DCR 1450).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 2(f) of Mental Health Civil Commitment Emergency Act of 2002 (D.C. Act 14-546, December 12, 2002, 50 DCR 199).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 2(e) of Mental Health Commitment Congressional Review Emergency Act of 2002 (D.C. Act 14-350, April 24, 2002, 49 DCR 4417).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 2(f) of Mental Health Civil Commitment Congressional Review Emergency Act of 2003 (D.C. Act 15-41, March 24, 2003, 50 DCR 2784).

Temporary Legislation

Section 2(e) of D.C. Law 14-131 amended this section to read as follows:

§ 21-511. Voluntary hospitalization and treatment.

“(a) A person may apply to a public or private hospital, the Department, or any mental health provider in the District of Columbia to become a voluntary patient for the purposes of observation, diagnosis, and care and treatment of a mental illness. Upon the request of a person 18 years of age or over, or, in the case of a person under 18 years of age, of his spouse, parent, or legal guardian, the administrator of the public hospital to which application is made shall, or the administrator of a private hospital to which application is made may, admit the person as a voluntary patient to the hospital for the purposes described in this section, in accordance with this chapter, if an examination by an admitting psychiatrist or an admitting qualified psychologist reveals the need for hospitalization.

“(b) If an examination reveals that the person requesting admission is not in need of hospitalization but is in need of outpatient treatment, the administrator of the hospital to which the application was made, or his designee, shall facilitate the admission of the person for voluntary outpatient treatment to the Department, a core services agency, or another provider. A person who is under 18 years of age may, consistent with the provisions of the Mental Health Service Delivery Reform Act of 2001, effective December 18, 2001 (D.C. Law 14-56; 48 DCR 7674), seek and consent to outpatient mental health services and mental health supports.”

Section 5(b) of D.C. Law 14-131 provided that the act shall expire after 225 days of its having taken effect.