BMC Psychiatry

, 7:S76 | Cite as

Commitment to psychiatric care: what justifies broader criteria for minors?

  • Riittakerttu Kaltiala-Heino
  • Suvi Turunen
  • Maritta Välimäki
Open Access
Oral presentation


Mental Health Mental Disorder Mental Illness Additional Criterion Psychiatric Treatment 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Commitment to psychiatric care is in Finland allowed for minors in broader terms than for adults. Minors can be committed to and detained in involuntary psychiatric treatment if they suffer from severe mental disorder and fullfil the additional commitment criteria defined in the Mental Health Act. Adults can be committed to involuntary psychiatric care only if they are mentally ill (= psychotic), and fullfil the additional criteria. Involuntary treatment of minors has been increasing steadily since the Mental Health Act was passed in 1991.


This study was set up to find out whether the Finnish child and adolescent psychiatrists agree with the need for defining broader commitment criteria for minors, and why. Semi-structured, reflexive dyadic interviews were carried out with 44 psychiatrists working with children and adolescents. The data was analyzed using qualitative and quantitative content analysis.


The analysis showed that broader commitment criteria for minors were favored referring to developmental needs related to childhood and adolescence, prevention of mental illnesses and inadequacy of descriptive diagnosis in childhood and adolescence. The commitment criteria were rather seen as too narrow for adults than as too broad for minors, and the medical rights of minors were preferred over self-determination.

Copyright information

© Kaltiala-Heino et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2007

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd.

Authors and Affiliations

  • Riittakerttu Kaltiala-Heino
    • 1
    • 3
  • Suvi Turunen
    • 1
  • Maritta Välimäki
    • 2
  1. 1.University of Tampere, Tampere School of Public HealthTampereFinland
  2. 2.Department of Nursing Science/Intermunicipal Hospital District of Southwest FinlandUniversity of Turku, University of TurkuFinland
  3. 3.Tampere University Hospital/EVATampereFinland

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