Can I be forced to stay in a psychiatric facility?
Under the Mental Health Act (MHA), there are 3 types of patients who stay in a :
- involuntary patients
- informal patients
- voluntary patients
Only an can be held in a psychiatric facility against their will. You’re an involuntary patient if your doctor signs a “certificate of involuntary admission”. This can only happen after your doctor:
- examines you to confirm you currently have a , or you have a mental disorder that comes and goes, and
- believes that your mental disorder will cause serious harm to you or someone else unless you stay in a psychiatric facility.
Informal patients and voluntary patients cannot be held in a psychiatric facility against their will.
You’re an informal patient if:
- a doctor has decided you cannot understand your own health care,
- another person, known as a (SDM) makes your health-care decisions for you, and
- your SDM decides you need to be in a psychiatric facility.
You’re a voluntary patient if you’re in a psychiatric facility because you want to be there.
Changes to your patient type
If your mental health condition changes while you’re in a facility, you may change from one type of patient to another. For example, you may have checked into the facility as a voluntary patient or an informal patient. But if your mental health condition changes to a point where you’re likely to hurt yourself or someone else, then your doctor might change your status to an involuntary patient. This means you’re not allowed to leave the facility.
In some situations, a doctor might change a voluntary patient’s status to involuntary if the patient tries to leave the facility. For example, your doctor believes that you’re likely to hurt yourself or someone else if you leave, so your doctor changes your status to an involuntary patient, to stop you from leaving. See Step 4 for more about your rights as a voluntary patient.
Differences between types of patients
The main differences between an involuntary, informal, and voluntary patient depends on:
- who decides to check you into the facility
- who decides when you can leave
- the main reason you’re there
|Patient Status||Who decides you need to be in a facility?||Who decides if you can leave?||Common Situation|
|Voluntary patient||You||You||You know you have a mental disorder and you want to get while staying in a psychiatric facility|
|Informal Patient||Your substitute decision-maker (SDM)||
If you’re 16 or older: You. But if your SDM has a legal document that clearly gives them the right to keep you in a psychiatric facility, then your SDM decides.
If you’re under 16: Your SDM.
|Your doctor believes you cannot understand your own health-care decisions, and your SDM is now responsible for them. Your SDM agrees to check you into a psychiatric hospital for treatment.|
|Involuntary Patient||Your coctor||Your doctor||Your doctor believes that your mental disorder may cause serious harm to you or someone else unless you get treatment in a psychiatric facility.|