The rights materials on this site were created by the Mental Health Act Rights Advice (MHARA) research team, which formed in fall 2017 at Simon Fraser University (SFU). The team consists of:

  • two patient partners with lived experience of certification,
  • a psychiatric clinical nurse educator, and
  • mental health and knowledge translation researchers at SFU and the University of British Columbia.

This patient-oriented research team’s mandate was to:

  • create a suite of Mental Health Act rights communication tools based on input from previous patients about their information needs at the time of certification,
  • test these materials with previous patients and use their feedback to refine the communication tools, and
  • introduce these materials to clinicians so that they can be used in hospitals.

The materials were reviewed for legal accuracy by a lawyer with expertise in mental health law.

This project was motivated by a 2011 survey commissioned by the Ministry of Health, where 43% of respondents who had been certified as involuntary patients reported that they had not been told their rights in a way they could understand.

The research team’s aims were to create patient-centred materials to help patients better understand their rights and to encourage clinicians to foster a culture where patients feel safe to talk about their rights.

The team is coordinated by Iva Cheung, PhD candidate at SFU.

This site is an extension of the project, designed to house the rights materials but also to provide additional resources about mental health rights, as requested by our research participants. Although the rights materials themselves have been reviewed by a lawyer for legal accuracy, the other content on this site, including the frequently asked questions and blog, has not. It is based on the researchers’ and blog post authors’ best understanding of the legislation and current practice.

Credits and copyright information

The materials are made available through a Creative Commons Attribution–NonCommercial license. You can freely reproduce the print materials as long as you credit the MHARA research team.

The illustrations are by Jonathon Dalton. The video is by Christopher Young of Viewers Like You Productions. The timeline concept for the certification periods was inspired by Stéphanie Roy of En Clair Service-Conseil Inc.


The MHARA research team gratefully acknowledges the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research, which supported our work through a Reach Award. Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research logo

A note on terminology

We recognize that the word patient can be problematic for some people who may prefer to be called people with lived experience, consumers, clients, survivors, or another term. We use patient on this site because it is term used in the Mental Health Act itself, and we felt that switching between terms would cause too much confusion.

We have chosen to use the term care partner to refer to family members or friends who care about and care for patients and who might also want to know about Mental Health Act rights. The Mental Health Act uses the term near relative to refer to a specific care partner that the patient has chosen to receive information about their certification.

Patients Included

Patients Included logo

The rights materials meet all five criteria in the Patients Included patient information resources charter:

  1. Two patient partners co-created the materials, delivering a first draft, and they reviewed and approved every revision. The materials were tested for usability with sixteen current or former patients (people with lived experience of certification).
  2. Project meetings to conceptualize and review the materials accommodated the patient partners’ schedules and physical and mental health needs. Other project communications took place over patient partners’ preferred communication channels.
  3. Patient partners were compensated for their time, and their input was not only encouraged but actively solicited after each revision to the materials.
  4. Rights materials are available on a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial licence and are free to download, print, and distribute. They are offered in multiple formats online and can be enlarged and read with assistive devices. The video is captioned.
  5. Rights materials were written by patients for patients and were reviewed by two plain-language editors. Usability testing with people with lived experience confirmed that the materials address patients’ information needs. Any unfamiliar terminology as identified through testing is defined. The language is clear and conversational.


The information on this site should not be considered legal advice. For legal advice about certification and your Mental Health Act rights, contact a lawyer. Access Pro Bono offers 30 minutes of legal advice about certification for free through the Mental Health Program Telephone Clinic. Contact them to make an appointment.