Changes to Mental Health Act rights

The information in the rights materials available on this site will soon be out of date because of the following changes:

The Form 4 medical certificate is being replaced by Forms 4.1 and 4.2

The province has now empowered nurse practitioners to examine people to see if they meet the criteria for involuntary hospitalization. 

Before this change, only a physician could authorize involuntary hospitalization. If the physician believed that the person they examined met the criteria for involuntary hospitalization, the physician would complete the Form 4 medical certificate, which would allow a designated facility to keep the person in the facility for up to 48 hours. If a second physician examined the person and believed that they met the criteria for involuntary hospitalization, this physician could complete a second Form 4 medical certificate, which would allow a designated facility to hold the person for up to 1 month.

Now, nurse practitioners as well as physicians can perform the first examination and authorize involuntary hospitalization for up to 48 hours using the new Form 4.1 first medical certificate.

Only a physician can perform a second examination and authorize involuntary hospitalization for up to 1 month, and they would do so using the new Form 4.2 second medical certificate.

The existing Form 4 is still valid until January 31, 2024, and some health authorities are continuing to use it.

Nurse practitioners and physicians are required to write down an explanation of how an involuntary patient meets the four criteria for involuntary hospitalization on these forms. If you’re an involuntary patient and want to understand why you are being held under the Mental Health Act, you can ask your care team to see your Form 4 medical certificates. They might show you Forms 4.1 and 4.2 if they have started using the new system.

Access Pro Bono has changed its phone number for Mental Health Act legal advice

Involuntary patients or their family members can call Access Pro Bono to make an appointment for 30 minutes of free legal advice over the phone about the Mental Health Act from a lawyer. Access Pro Bono used to offer this service through a dedicated phone number for their Mental Health Program Telephone Clinic, but now they have merged it with their Summary Advice Program.

Currently, if you dial the old number for the Mental Health Program Telephone Clinic, the recorded message will give you the new phone number to call for an appointment for summary advice. It’s unclear how long they will keep this recorded message and discontinue the old number completely.

Involuntary patients will soon have the right to ask for rights advice

The Ministry of the Attorney General is establishing a new independent rights advice service, which will be run by the Canadian Mental Health Association, BC Division (CMHA BC), in partnership with Health Justice, the Community Legal Assistance Society and Métis Nation BC.

When this service launches in fall 2023, involuntary patients will have the right to ask to speak to a rights advisor. The rights advisor will meet with patients to give them information about their rights, answer their rights questions, discuss their options, and help them access their rights, like applying for a review panel hearing or applying for a second medical opinion.

What do these changes mean for the rights materials on this site?

The rights materials on this site: 

  • have the old Access Pro Bono phone number, 
  • refer to Form 4 and not Forms 4.1 and 4.2, and
  • do not tell people of their right to a rights advisor.

Until the independent rights advice service launches, the information in the materials on this site is still valid, although people will be redirected to the new Access Pro Bono if they call the old number. This site remains the only place we’re aware of that offers reliable access to BC Mental Health Act rights information in languages other than English.

We currently have no plans to update the materials, for a few reasons. 

  • First, when the independent rights advice service launches, it will likely develop its own materials with up-to-date information. 
  • Second, the Ministry of Health will also have to update their Form 13, which gives involuntary patients rights information, to include the new right to speak to a rights advisor. If they make that form easy for people to understand, our plain language materials might no longer be needed. 
  • Finally, the materials on this site were developed and translated using research funding that ended in 2018. We have no other sources of funding to update the materials, and this site is maintained thanks to a small annual donation.

Vancouver Coastal Health providers can try asking the Patient Health Education Materials office to update the materials. They have access to the original design files and should be able to make changes to the print resources.

Island Health providers can try contacting Mental Health & Substance Use Services leadership to have the materials updated on the health authority’s intranet.

After January 31, 2024, if there is demand from the community for us to update our rights materials and make them available on this site, we might be able to offer new print materials. We will not have the capacity to update our video. 

We’re grateful to have been part of the effort to make Mental Health Act rights more accessible to more people, and we’re happy to see that the issue is being taken seriously by decision makers in the mental health system.

Mental Health Act resources for clinicians working with children and youth

The Child, Youth, and Reproductive Mental Health programs at BC Children’s Hospital have launched a new education module about the Mental Health Act with a pediatric focus.

A CME-accredited version of the module for health care providers is available on the Learning Hub.

Screen shot from showing the link to the BC Mental Health Act Toolkit

A new Mental Health Act Toolkit is available to the wider public at

“Through collaboration with experts in mental health at BC Children’s Hospital and with input from patients and families with lived experience, this resource was developed primarily for health care providers admitting children and youth under the Mental Health Act,” says Angela Olsen, project manager at BC Children’s Hospital and Child Health BC. The team also created tools to support children, youth, and their families as they navigate the admissions process.

Olsen encourages people to share these tools widely among professionals who work with children and youth who are admitted under the Mental Health Act. If you have questions or feedback about these resources, contact her or Brittin Oakman.

New Mental Health Act video for youth in BC

Promotional poster for the youth video. The video's main character is shown, along with questions "Why do you need to be here?" "Do you have a say?" "What do you tell your friends?" The poster says that the video is available at

BC Children’s Hospital has launched an interactive video to help youth and their families better understand what it means to be certified under the Mental Health Act. The video explains:

  • what the Mental Health Act is,
  • what the criteria are for involuntary hospitalization,
  • what rights a young involuntary patient has under the Mental Health Act,
  • how long a young patient might stay in hospital,
  • what happens after decertification,
  • what roles various healthcare providers play in the young patient’s care and treatment, and
  • how a young patient can participate in their own recovery by expressing their opinions and asking their treatment team questions.

Continue reading “New Mental Health Act video for youth in BC”

Mental Health Act rights materials now available in eight languages other than English

The unmet need

In a series of focus groups, members of our research team asked clinicians about the barriers they face when giving involuntary patients rights information. One barrier participants mentioned over and over was that many of their patients didn’t understand English.

Form 13, the document clinicians use to to tell patients about their rights, seems to be available only in English.

Translated rights materials

To help fill the gap in availability of Mental Health Act rights information in other languages, we’ve translated:

into eight of BC’s most commonly spoken languages other than English:

  • Arabic
  • Chinese (Traditional and Simplified)
  • Farsi
  • French
  • Korean
  • Punjabi
  • Spanish
  • Vietnamese

Continue readingMental Health Act rights materials now available in eight languages other than English”

Clinicians: What questions do you have about Mental Health Act rights?

Cartoon of clinicians sitting around a table. One of them is talking. A researcher listens.

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.

Seeking translation reviewers

Translations are coming!

The Legal Services Society has generously agreed to fund the translation of our

  • pamphlet,
  • wallet card, and
  • video captions

into three languages of high need in British Columbia:

  • Traditional Chinese (we will use this as a basis to make Simplified Chinese available as well, localizing the language as needed),
  • Punjabi, and
  • Farsi.

UPDATE (November 9, 2018): We will also be translating the materials into

  • Arabic
  • French
  • Korean,
  • Spanish, and
  • Vietnamese.

Continue reading “Seeking translation reviewers”

Mental Health Act rights materials are now available through Vancouver Coastal Health

Vancouver Coastal Health branded version of the wallet card

Vancouver Coastal Health has approved a VCH-branded version of our rights materials for its Patient Health Education Materials Resource Catalogue.

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.

The materials are also branded with the Providence Health Care logo and can be ordered by PHC staff.

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.

Welcome to the BC Mental Health Rights blog!

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.