This blog is an informal place to talk about patients’ Mental Health Act rights. Posts take a closer look at an issue related mental health rights, especially in BC, and are written by patients and people with lived experience, care partners, clinicians, legal experts, and researchers.
This content has not been reviewed for legal accuracy and should not be considered legal advice.
In Committed to Change, a report detailing the failure of the mental health system to uphold the rights of involuntary patients hospitalized under the Mental Health Act, the BC Ombudsperson issued 24 recommendations “to ensure the rights of people with serious mental illness are respected and public confidence in our mental health system is enhanced.” (BC Ombudsperson 2019, p. 3)
One of the recommendations is that, “By March 31, 2020, the Ministry of Health update and reissue the Guide to the Mental Health Act to incorporate the changes made arising from this report and other changes.” (BC Ombudsperson 2019, p. 98)
When I interviewed people who experienced involuntary hospitalization (certification) about their information needs, some of them told me that, when they choose to exercise their rights, they’d like more information about what comes next.
What happens after you hand in Form 7 to ask for a review panel hearing? Or what happens after you hand in Form 11 to ask for a second medical opinion?
Involuntary patients over the age of 16 have the right to ask for a second medical opinion from a doctor who’s not on their treatment team. My interviews with former involuntary patients and with clinicians seem to show that both groups are confused about how this right works, so this post aims to answer some of the most common questions about it.
In response to clinician demand arising from our rights information sessions, some members of our team are working with clinical staff to develop a LearningHub module about Mental Health Act rights so that healthcare providers across BC will have access to our content.
To make sure we address clinicians’ most pressing questions about Mental Health Act rights, we’re reaching out!
Questions can be about:
the Mental Health Act rights themselves
your obligations under the Mental Health Act to give rights information
the rights-notification process
Forms 13 & 14 and other rights information tools
…or any other concerns related to Mental Health Act rights.
If you’re a nurse, social worker, physician, or other healthcare provider who works with the Mental Health Act and are wondering about any rights-related issues, please contact us with your questions by December 20, 2018.
The review board intends for these documents to “ensure that a patient is given a procedurally fair hearing that also proceeds expeditiously.” Many of the polices are meant to streamline the review panel hearings: they encourage both case presenter and patient (or patient representative) to come to the hearings prepared to give the review panel the evidence they need to make their decision. But several of the new rules also support patients’ rights, and this post will highlight some of those points.
Involuntary patients have the right to ask for a hearing with a review panel if they want to challenge their certification. To do so, they (or someone on their behalf) must fill out Form 7.
Earlier this year, the Ministry of the Attorney General, together with the Ministry of Health and the Mental Health Review Board, revised Form 7, partly in response to the Community Legal Assistance Society’s report Operating in Darkness, which was critical of many aspects of the Mental Health Act and how it was implemented in practice. In May, the Mental Health Review Board announced “that after several months of consultations, our new Form 7 ‘Application for Review Panel Hearing’ has received Cabinet approval by way of an Order in Council approved on May 15, 2018.” Continue reading “A revised Form 7—better for patient rights?”
Anyone, including members of the public, can find PDFs of these materials by searching the catalogue for “Your Rights under BC’s Mental Health Act.” VCH staff can order printed copies through the printing services website.
Beyond asking us to add logos, VCH also asked us to make a black & white version of our pamphlet to save on printing costs. We’ve made such a pamphlet available, but we urge staff to order colour pamphlets if possible: many participants in our user testing specifically asked for our documents to have colour, and colour would make the pamphlet more memorable among the many black & white forms that involuntary patients see when they are first hospitalized.
One of the questions we get most often is “How can family and friends help involuntary patients exercise their rights?” We’ll cover that topic in more depth in a future blog post, but before we can get there, we have to lay the groundwork by clarifying what a near relative is.
The rest of this blog post speaks to patients.
Choosing a near relative
If you’re admitted as an involuntary patient (certified), a member of the staff, usually a nurse, will ask you to choose someone to be your near relative. This near relative will be informed: Continue reading “What’s a near relative?”