MENTAL HEALTH LAW (CIVIL)

The Mental Health Act of Alberta describes what could happen to an individual who is suffering from a mental disorder, needs treatment and is likely to harm themselves and or others if left untreated.

Individuals may agree to be treated voluntarily or involuntarily. If a person suffering from a mental disorder refuses to be treated one can try to obtain an Order from a judge or they can call the police and try to have the individual admitted to a hospital. A family doctor may also facilitate the hospitalization of the individual. This process is known as an involuntary admission of an individual to a health care facility.

It is important to know that patients hospitalized against their will have rights. Some such rights include:

  • being informed about the reasons for why they have been involuntarily detained and when the certification will expire, is cancelled or renewed
  • having access to a lawyer
  • informing a Review Panel to arrange a hearing to determine whether to cancel the admission certificates or not to renew the certification
  • refusing treatment if the patient is mentally competent to make treatment decisions
  • confidentiality and not have letters addressed to them opened by hospital staff
  • being able to contact the Mental Health Patient Advocate

Individuals who have been discharged from health care facilities pursuant to a Community Treatment Order (CTO) have rights similar to those stated above. The CTO is reviewed periodically by a Review Panel. The patient can be represented by a lawyer at the hearing. And free and timely access to the patient’s record as it relates to the hearing is provided.

I have represented countless individuals at Review Panel hearings and for appeals of decisions of the tribunal.