First Level Commitment Evaluation Program
In June 2003, the North Carolina legislature passed Session Law 2003-178, House Bill 883. It directed the Secretary of Health and Human Services to develop a pilot program allowing up to five Local Management Entities (LME’s) to waive the current general statutes pertaining to the first level examinations for involuntary commitments performed by physicians and eligible psychologists.
The pilot program permitted “a licensed clinical social worker, a masters level psychiatric nurse, or a masters level certified clinical addictions specialist to conduct the initial (first level) examinations of individuals meeting the criteria for commitment in G.S. 122C-261(a) or G.S. 122C-281(a)”. Two studies were conducted by the Division of Mental Health/Developmental Disabilities/Substance Abuse Services to determine the effectiveness of the pilot in cooperation with the following entities:
- National Association of Social Workers
- North Carolina Council of Community Programs
- North Carolina Medical Society
- North Carolina Nurses Association
- North Carolina Psychiatric Association
- North Carolina Psychological Association
- North Carolina Society for Clinical Social Work
- North Carolina Substance Abuse Professional Practice Board
The General Assembly, via SESSION LAW 2011-346 SENATE BILL 437, subsequently determined that effective 10/1/11, the first-level involuntary commitment pilot program was to be made permanent. In addition to physicians or eligible psychologists, this act allows the following to complete these evaluations:
- Licensed clinical social worker,
- Master's level psychiatric nurse,
- Master's level certified clinical addictions specialist.
People certified to perform these first level involuntary commitment examinations have successfully completed a rigorous training, testing and certification program that requires recertification every three years.