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B.C. introducing rights advisors for people involuntarily admitted under Mental Health Act

New service expected to be ready in 2023, offer primarily virtual assistance
Sheila Malcolmson, B.C. minister of mental health and addictions, said a new team of rights advisors for people involuntarily admitted under the Mental Health Act will increase dignity and respect. (Black Press Media file photo)

British Columbians involuntarily admitted to mental-health facilities will soon have access to an independent advisor to discuss their rights and options with.

The province made the announcement Thursday (April 28), with the promise that the new service will be in place sometime in 2023 if the tabled legislation amendments go through.

It will apply to people who are apprehended under the Mental Health Act against their will. The act is utilized when a person’s mental or physical health is severely deteriorating, or when they pose a risk to themselves or others.

Individuals are already informed of their rights when they’re involuntarily admitted, transferred to a different facility or have their involuntary status renewed. The problem, the CEO of the Canadian Mental Health Association’s B.C. division Jonny Morris said, is that they’re been told by an employee of the facility they were just admitted to.

The new rights advisors will be completely independent. They’ll help to ensure those individuals understand what is happening to them and what their options are. For example, they have a right to a second opinion, the right to know where they are and why they’ve been admitted, the right to contact a lawyer, and the right to have their mental state assessed regularly.

Morris said the decision is a welcome one and something the mental health association and many others have long been pushing for.

Sheila Malcolmson, minister of mental health and addictions, said the goal is to treat people with greater dignity and respect.

The service is expected to be available in 2023 and will be provided primarily by phone and video call.

READ ALSO: ‘Jarring experience’ in B.C. psych wards because of ‘uniquely problematic’ law


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About the Author: Jane Skrypnek

Hi, I'm a provincial reporter with Black Press Media, where I've worked since 2020.
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