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ALEX COHEN, host:

With the grim economy and more layoffs every week this is a tenths time in many workplaces. The anxiety, the stress it's almost enough to make you or your co-workers crazy. But what if you think someone in your office actually is crazy? Can you have them committed? The people at Slate.com researched this, and back in the fall of 2007, our senior producer Steve Proffitt brought us this explainer.

STEVE PROFFITT: It all boils down to imminent danger. Some states allowing involuntary commitment in cases of grave disability. In California, for example, this applies to anyone whose mental illness limits their access to food and shelter. It takes a bit less to put someone a way in Arizona, where lawmakers say institutionalization is OK if an individual's condition is deteriorating and he can't make an informed decision about treatment. There is some kind of review process, though, wherever you live. Generally, either a family member or a health-care professional must petition a local judge. But in some states anyone - a co-worker, a neighbor or just a concerned observer can serve as a petitioner. In the past, it was easier to get someone locked up but liberals and libertarians argued that the civil rights of the mentally ill were being curtailed. State hospitals were downsized and much of the burdens shifted to local facilities. This all coincided with the development of anti-psychotic medications, which can help schizophrenics and manic depressives lead independent lives.

COHEN: That explainer was written by Slate's Juliet Lapidos and read by NPR's Steve Proffitt.

COHEN: Day to Day is a production of NPR News with contributions from Slate.com. I'm Alex Cohen

BRAND: And I'm Madeleine Brand.

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