Have you been involuntarily detained under the Mental Health Act in BC?

There are legal options available to you. 

Every year in BC, approximately 25,000 people are detained under the Mental Health Act. BC is the only province in Canada with a “deemed consent provision,” that prevents you or trusted family members and friends from making decisions about your psychiatric treatment plan. 

If you have been certified under the Mental Health Act, want to be discharged from a psychiatric institution, want to have control and consent over your psychiatric treatment, or are on extended leave in the community, you can apply for a review panel hearing with the Mental Health Review Board. You are entitled to a lawyer at your hearing. 

In order to get a review panel hearing, you must fill out Form 7. You can do this on your own, or a lawyer can help you. You will then be notified of the date of your review panel hearing. You can submit evidence to the Mental Health Review Panel Board and the presiding doctor should also submit a case note, both 24 hours before the review panel hearing date. 

The review panel has the power to decide whether you should continue to remain certified. If you are decertified, you can leave the psychiatric institution or remain as a voluntary patient. 

Aside from your doctor and lawyer, the review panel will include three individuals, namely, a chairperson with a legal background, a doctor who has not treated you, and a community member. 

The legal test to continue certification according to the review panel is pursuant to the Mental Health Act. The review panel must establish the individual meets the following four criteria in order to continue certification:

  1. Suffers from a disorder of the mind that seriously impairs the person’s ability to react appropriately to their environment or to associate with others;
  2. Requires psychiatric treatment in or through a designated facility;
  3. Requires care, supervision, and control in or through a designated facility to prevent the person’s substantial mental or physical deterioration or for the person’s protection or the protection of others; and
  4. Is unsuitable to be a voluntary patient.

At the hearing, you and/or your lawyer will have the chance to present your case. The review panel is interested in knowing your plans after discharge. You can bring in family or friends as witnesses, in person or by phone. They can also write letters in your support. Your case is more likely to be successful if you can demonstrate you are committed to a reasonable alternative treatment plan instead of the one proposed by the facility. 

The review panel will then make an oral decision and mail you a longer written decision later. If your case is unsuccessful, you can reapply for another review panel hearing. 

If you are interested in speaking to a lawyer regarding the Mental Health Act and a review panel hearing, please call today!

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens annually to approximately 25,000 people in BC under the Mental Health Act?

They are involuntarily detained under the Mental Health Act.

What unique provision does BC have in its Mental Health Act?

BC has a “deemed consent provision” that restricts individuals or their family from making decisions about their psychiatric treatment.

How can someone challenge their certification under the Mental Health Act?

By applying for a review panel hearing with the Mental Health Review Board.

Who is entitled to legal representation during a review panel hearing?

The individual who has been certified under the Mental Health Act.

What is required to get a review panel hearing?

Filling out and submitting Form 7.

What can the review panel decide regarding a certified individual?

Whether the individual should continue to remain certified or be decertified.

Who comprises the review panel?

A chairperson with a legal background, a doctor who has not treated the individual, and a community member.

What criteria must be met for an individual to continue certification?

Suffering from a mind disorder that impairs their ability to react or associate with others, requiring psychiatric treatment and care in a designated facility, and being unsuitable as a voluntary patient.

Can family or friends participate in the review panel hearing?

Yes, they can appear as witnesses or provide written support.

What happens if the review panel hearing is unsuccessful?

The individual can reapply for another review panel hearing.

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