What are my rights as a psychiatric patient?

Psychiatric patients have the same general legal rights as everyone else in Ontario. Being a doesn’t affect those general rights. Like everyone else, psychiatric patients also have a number of specific rights related to mental health. 

General legal rights

Examples of general legal rights include the right:

  •  to express yourself and practice your religion freely
  • to move around within Canada and to leave the country
  • to vote
  • not to be discriminated against
  • to speak to a lawyer and to get legal advice

Rights connected to mental health

Examples of rights that are related to mental health include the right to:

  • access information in your health
  • privacy, which means only you and your health-care providers can access information in your health records
  • get information about a proposed so you can make an informed decision
  • refuse treatment that you don’t want
  • challenge your doctor if they say you’renot mentally capable of making your own healthcare decisions
  • complain about your treatment or your health-care providers
  • to be treated with dignity and respect

If someone violates your rights

If you think someone violated your rights, you can complain about it. A lawyer can advise you on whether your rights were violated and can explain your legal options.  The steps you take next will depend on which rights were violated.

If you’re a patient in a , you also have the right to talk to a Rights Adviser. A Rights Adviser is a person who helps you understand your health-care rights. They can also help you find a lawyer. To speak with a Rights Adviser, you can contact the Psychiatric Patient Advocate Office at 1-800-578-2343.

If your income is low, you may be able to get help from Legal Aid Ontario and get a legal aid certificate. You can reach Legal Aid Ontario at 1-800-668-8258.

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