Seals of the Court of Appeals and Superior Court
District of Columbia Courts

Mental Health and Mental Habilitation

Mental Health and Habilitation matters are those relating to the hospitalization and continued treatment of persons found (by a judge) to be in need of mental health services, and to persons with intellectual disabilities.

How do I...

get assistance for a family member who appears to be mentally ill?
Under DC law, before a person can be committed and/or forced to accept treatment, the person must be found to be mentally ill and dangerous to self and/or others because of the mental illness.

determine if someone is considered a danger to self and/or others as a result of the mental illness?
“Danger to self” means that the person is not able to care for him-or herself or is likely to inadvertently place him or herself in a position of danger or are likely to suffer harm. "Danger to others" means that the person is likely to perform some act or acts either intentionally or unintentionally to others and such act or acts may be either violent or nonviolent. Please note that drug addiction and alcoholism do not qualify as a mental illness.

begin the process of getting the person help?
If a loved one or someone you live with needs help for a mental health problem, the person may go, or be taken to, a community mental health center. You may also contact the District of Columbia's 24-hour Mental Health Hotline: 1-888-7 WE HELP/ 1-888-793-4357 or the Mobile Crisis Center at 202/673-9300. A doctor will examine the individual and determine if the person appears mentally ill and dangerous to self and/or others. The doctor will decide whether emergency hospitalization is needed.

initiate the contact process for a person with mental illness?
If you desire to initiate the process and you are a parent or guardian, you can file the petition yourself in the Central Intake Center of the DC Superior Court’s Family Court. The person for whom treatment is sought must be examined by a doctor to determine if the person suffers from a mental illness and presents a danger to self and/or others prior to the filing of the petition.

get assistance for a person with intellectual disabilities?
A case may be initiated with the filing of a petition with the Court (at the Central Intake Center, Room JM-540 of the Moultrie Courthouse) and supporting affidavits by a parent, guardian or by a representative of the Department of Disability Services (DDS). You may also contact DDS at: 250 E Street SW, Washington DC 20024; (202) 730-1700; or online at:

Family Court

Presiding Judge: Hon. Carol Dalton
Deputy Presiding Judge: Hon. Peter Krauthamer
Director: Avrom D. Sickel, Esq.
Deputy Director: Toni F. Gore

Moultrie Courthouse
500 Indiana Avenue NW,
Washington, DC 20001

Get Directions
Hours of Operation

8:30 am to 5:00 pm

Telephone Numbers
(202) 879-1212


Branch Chief: Heather M. Greigg
(202) 879-1040

Mental Habilitation Advocate Program:
(202) 879-0201