The Mental Health Review Board schedules and conducts review panel hearings for involuntary patients who want to challenge their certification. (If you want to learn more about what review panels do and how to apply for one, our rights materials may help.) Last year was the first time the board published an annual report, which I summarized in a blog post.
The board has seen tremendous shifts over the past couple of years, with a new chair implementing a restructuring plan, a move from the Ministry of Health to the Ministry of the Attorney General, and a corresponding physical move to a new office.
This year’s annual report offers a glimpse of the progress and effects of this restructuring. Here are a few highlights, along with some of my reactions.
Continue reading “Highlights from the Mental Health Review Board’s 2018–2019 annual report”
BC’s Mental Health Act has been in the news a few times over the past several weeks. Here are some rights-related highlights:
Should the Mental Health Act be used to detain youth with substance use disorder?
At a BC coroner’s inquest into the overdose death of 16-year-old Elliot Eurchuk, pediatrician Dr. Tom Warshawski testified that he supports using the Mental Health Act to treat young people for substance use disorder against their will. Dr. Perry Kendall, B.C.’s former provincial health officer, told the inquest that there’s not enough evidence that involuntary treatment would prevent deaths and improve health outcomes. Continue reading “Mental Health Act news roundup”
Poor form completion rates
In the recently released report, Committed to Change, the BC Office of the Ombudsperson detailed disturbing findings that involuntary patients aren’t consistently told about their rights under the Mental Health Act. Further, family care partners aren’t always told that their loved ones have been detained. These stories are appalling, but will enforcing better record keeping prevent these scenarios from happening?
According to the Mental Health Act, when a person is admitted as an involuntary patient under a medical certificate (Form 4):
- They’re supposed to learn their rights by being read and given Form 13.
- They’re supposed to nominate a near relative to notify about their hospitalization, using Form 15.
- Their care team is supposed to send Form 16 to that near relative. Form 16 tells the near relative that the person (a) has been detained and (b) has rights under the Mental Health Act. This form is supposed to be sent or given to the near relative immediately after the person has been admitted.
The BC Office of the Ombudsperson found:
- Form 13 in only 49% of patient files,
- Form 15 in only 43% of patient files, and
- Form 16 in only 32% of patient files.
In response to these poor compliance rates, the Office of the Ombudsperson issued this recommendation:
Recommendation 9: By June 30, 2019, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions work together with the health authorities to establish clear and consistent provincial standards aimed at achieving 100 percent compliance with the involuntary admissions procedures under the Mental Health Act through the timely and appropriate completion of all required forms.
In other words, these three forms should appear in 100% of patient files. But will mandating 100% compliance solve the problem of patients and family care partners not knowing patients’ rights?
I don’t believe they will. Continue reading “Will forcing health authorities to complete all Mental Health Act forms help patients better understand their rights?”
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)
Continue reading “A chance to make a better Guide to the Mental Health Act“