"The fact that Amanda Bynes flagged a car down, told them she was having a psychotic episode and called 911 herself actually gives me a lot of hope for her well-being."
It's not a secret that celebrities are just like everyone else and sometimes struggle with mental health concerns. Amanda Bynes is no exception, and she has been quite open about her mental health struggles over the years. In 2013, Bynes was placed under conservatorship after a few mental health crises that put herself and others in danger.
Since the conservatorship was ended in 2021, Bynes has remained essentially out of public view and was scheduled to appear with her "All That" cast members at 90s Con. But recently, Bynes went in for a 72-hour psychiatric hold after experiencing a psychotic episode that led her to walking around downtown Los Angeles without any clothing. During a moment of clarity, the 36-year-old actress flagged down a car and called 911.
While walking around a busy city naked can certainly qualify as risk of harm to oneself, Bynes' actions after regaining a sense of reality are important. There are two types of psychiatric holds: voluntary and involuntary. Clearly, a voluntary hold is more desirable and shows promise for marked improvement because you're the one recognizing the need for psychiatric care. Bynes making the phone call herself shows that she knew, in that moment, her behavior was unsafe and she needed help.
So what happens during a 72-hour hold? If you've never sought out or been placed under psychiatric watch or haven't known anyone who has, what happens can feel like a mystery. When you're placed on a temporary psychiatric hold, whether it's involuntary or not, you get evaluated by a nurse or physician who will then call in for a psychiatric consult.
If the consulting psychiatrist decides that you meet the criteria to be admitted, they will find an available bed for you in a psychiatric facility if the hospital doesn't have its own psychiatric floor. Most of the time, this can happen within a few hours, but sometimes it can take much longer. In the interim, the hospital staff works to keep you safe until you can be transported.
Throughout the stay, you're constantly being evaluated in indirect ways, such as if you eat your food, if you're talkative, if you appear to be experiencing hallucinations, etc. Usually, after group and individual therapy as well as medication adjustments, they hold a meeting in which you are present to decide if you're stable enough to return home or if longer care is needed. Longer care can mean adding days to your stay there or finding a longer-term facility for extended treatment.
The entire process can be scary if you don't know what to expect, but with celebrities like Bynes having mental health crises more publicly, people may be curious about the process. It can also help people feel safe in seeking help when a public figure does so. The "All That" alum's help-seeking wasn't lost on her fans who applauded her decision and were determined to make sure people recognized her agency in the process.
"The fact that Amanda Bynes flagged a car down, told them she was having a psychotic episode and called 911 herself actually gives me a lot of hope for her well-being. That's a huge deal. When she's ready, I hope she can be proud of herself for that, Bassey Ikpi wrote on Twitter.
People are not only applauding that Bynes sought help on her own, they're also pointing out the framing of stories around the star's actions.
"Amanda recognized that she needed help. SHE was the one who made the 911 call to help herself. Please be mindful how you frame stories. Knowing that she understood she needed help and actively sought it is very important. Don't take that away from her," Alana posted to Twitter.
As someone who specializes in psychotic disorders, I can confidently say, in my experience, someone in psychosis actively seeking help is a big deal. Typically, if someone has been off of their medication for a while, they may not recognize that what they're doing is outside of their normal or part of psychosis. But those who do recognize it and seek out help can sometimes catch their psychosis in a moment of clarity and address it before it spirals further out of control.
People who have psychotic disorders are still full, autonomous people who deserve respect and dignity, even in the throes of a psychotic break. What Bynes did was not only brave, it showed that she and she alone took control of her mental health in that moment, and that's worth celebrating.