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.
Knowing the answers to these questions can help reduce anxiety and give the involuntary patient a bit more control over their situation. Unfortunately, giving this information was beyond the scope of our project, which focused on creating patient-centred rights materials that involuntary patients would receive when they were first certified.
My interviewees agreed that, at that time, giving patients details about what would happen at a review panel hearing would be overwhelming. But many also said that when they did finally apply for a hearing, they didn’t get any information about what would happen next.
That’s why I’m happy to see that the Mental Health Review Board has recently launched a standalone website, revamping the previous site to make it easier to navigate. The site gives different people involved in review panel hearings information tailored to their roles and needs.
The site has split up its information into sections for:
- family members or supporters
- advocates or patient representatives
- case presenters or representatives of the hospital
The site for patients takes them through the step-by-step process of applying for a hearing, getting help and preparing for a hearing, and attending the hearing. It also has a section on what happens after the hearing.
The information is written in much plainer language than it was before, and it’s much easier to follow and digest. I applaud the Mental Health Review Board’s efforts to make this information more accessible.
This is a big step in the right direction, and I hope there will be many such steps.
First, I wonder if the site was user tested with members of its four intended audiences to see if it meets their information needs.
Second, I’d like to see the information for patients made available as a print resource—or at least a well-formatted PDF that clinicians can find and print for patients who have applied for a review panel hearing and may not have internet access in hospital.
Information and implementation
I found out about the website revamp, which may have taken place several weeks ago, because I just happened to attend the UBC Department of Psychiatry Regional Grand Rounds on January 8, 2019. The session featured Mental Health Review Board chair Diana Juricevic as one of the speakers (along with Vancouver Coastal Health’s Drs. JJ Sidhu and Randall White). Juricevic was there to talk about how the Mental Health Review Board’s new Rules of Practice and Procedure would affect the way clinicians practice. (Earlier I’d found out about the new Rules by chance, through word of mouth from someone involved in my research.)
As someone immersed in researching BC mental health rights issues, I’m a bit dismayed by the roundabout ways I’ve had to learn about the Mental Health Review Board’s initiatives. After the Grand Rounds, one of the audience members, a community psychiatrist, noted that they received almost no notice about the rollout of the new Rules, so I don’t think I’m alone in wanting timely and accessible updates.
From the sounds of things, the health authorities may benefit from engaging implementation experts to make sure their frontline staff get the information and support they need to carry out the changes to their practice arising from the new Rules.
I’d also like to see more outreach from the Mental Health Review Board—for instance, a way to sign up for news updates or a social media feed. I’ve looked through most pages on the new site and haven’t seen an obvious way to get push notifications so that I can stay informed of their changes. Many of these changes, I think, are positive steps for patients’ rights, but people need to know about them to use and act on them.