A Tool For Mental Health

Contributed By:
Chuck Vaughn, Chief Prosecutor
Kenton County Attorney

Mental illness affects the daily lives of countless citizens in our community.  It impacts a person’s physical health, relationships, jobs, living situations and overall well-being.   Many people suffering from mental illness are undiagnosed or untreated.  The stigma associated with mental illness often prevents an individual or his/her family from acknowledging the issue, and there are often barriers to getting appropriate treatment.  Frequently, those suffering from mental illness will turn to alcohol or drugs to “self-medicate” their symptoms.  This can in turn lead to an addiction to the drugs they started using for relief.

Family members or friends are frequently at a loss trying to find a way to get the person the help they need. One tool that is available is a Petition for Involuntary Hospitalization.  This process begins at the Kenton County Attorney’s Office where the concerned friend or loved one can speak to an attorney about their concerns.  The attorney assists with the petition and provides information about the process.  If a Court determines that a person is suffering from a mental illness and is a danger to themselves or to others, the Court can order that person to be evaluated at a local hospital to determine if he/she meets the criteria for further treatment.  Sometimes people are evaluated, given medication and then released and referred to outpatient treatment.  If further treatment is needed, a hearing will be held by the Court to listen to evidence from the medical/mental health professionals regarding the person’s mental illness, danger and his/her need for continued treatment.  If the Court finds the necessary factors exist and that the person needs continued treatment, he/she will be transferred to one of the state’s psychiatric hospitals.  Cases originating in Kenton County would be transferred to Eastern State Hospital in Lexington.  A final hearing is then held within 21 days of placement if additional hospitalization is necessary.

As with many illnesses, treatment of mental illness is frequently not completely successful during the initial stages of treatment.  Sometimes multiple petitions will need to be filed over an individual’s lifetime to get them back in a situation where they are managing their illness successfully.

The Kenton County Attorney’s office stands ready to assist when needed.  Please visit our website at for additional information. 

Click here for a informational brochure on the details of Involuntary Hospitalizations. 

Posted May 12, 2016 at 08:53 AM