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.
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?”
The Mental Health Review Board conducts review panel hearings that decide if someone who is an involuntary patient should continue to be certified. (Our rights materials have some information about how involuntary patients can apply for a review panel hearing and what a hearing may involve.)
This past year, the Mental Health Review Board moved from the Ministry of Health to the Ministry of the Attorney General. Under the Ministry of Health, the board hadn’t been regularly reporting on its activities (See Operating in Darkness, p. 18). Now, under the Ministry of the Attorney General, the Mental Health Review Board is subject to the Administrative Tribunals Act, which requires that the board publish an annual report. In June, the Mental Health Review Board issued its 2017–2018 report, giving the public a glimpse into its operations for the first time in years.