4. Understand your rights as a voluntary patient

As a voluntary patient, you choose to go to a and stay there. You can leave the facility at any time. You cannot be held at the facility against your will.

The only time you can be kept in the facility is if a doctor decides to change your status to an . This can only happen if your doctor believes that you have to stay in the facility for your own safety or the safety of others.

A psychiatric facility should say you’re a voluntary patient only if the doctor really thinks they will let you leave whenever you want to.

In the past, some psychiatric facilities have said a patient is a voluntary patient even though the patient doesn’t really understand why they’re in the facility. Then when the patient tries to leave, the doctor changes their status to an involuntary patient even though the patient’s mental condition hasn’t changed.

This is illegal. It doesn’t give the patient the chance to make use of the rights of an involuntary patient from the start of their stay in the psychiatric facility. For example, the right to get help from a Rights Adviser or to apply to the Consent and Capacity Board for a review.

If something like this happens to you or someone you know, contact a lawyer right away. You can also apply to the Consent and Capacity Board to ask for a review.

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