Instructions for Friends and Family of a Person with an Emergency Psychiatric Problem Requiring Immediate Detention.

In an emergency, either the Travis County Mental Health Unit, a division of the Sheriff's Department, should be called at 512-854-9723 or the City of Austin Mental Health Unit, a division of the Police Department, should be called at 911. 

When the specially trained Mental Health Deputies or Officers determine that a person meets the criteria for emergency detention without a warrant, they will transport the person to a psychiatric facility for further evaluation.  The main criteria for the detention of a mentally ill person, with or without a warrant, are that the person must evidence an imminent, substantial risk of serious harm to self or others.

It is possible for a magistrate to issue an Emergency Detention Warrant. However, Travis County has for the past thirty years exclusively used warrantless detentions, because it would be under unusual circumstances for a magistrate to issue an emergency detention warrant after the mental health unit has refused to make a warrantless emergency detention. This is not only because the detention criteria are the same but also because the magistrate relies heavily on the evaluation of these mental health professionals.

If the person is picked up under the emergency detention provisions, the mental health facility, upon evaluation, will either issue a physician's certificate for mental illness or discharge the proposed patient unless some other arrangement is made.  The physician's certificate is essential for further detention of the person under the temporary mental health commitment laws of this state.

Probate Court


Travis County Courthouse

1000 Guadalupe
Room 217
Austin, TX 78701

Mailing address

P.O. Box 1748
Austin, TX 78767

(512) 854-9258
Fax: (512) 854-4418

Hours: M-F, 8:00-12:00 & 1:00-5:00

Court staff

Directions to the Travis County Courthouse.