The Mental Health Act

The Mental Health Act governs the involuntary admission and treatment of persons with mental disorders. It provides criteria for their rights notification, second medical opinions, renewal certificates, review panels, and other related issues.

According to the Mental Health Act, there are three methods of arranging for involuntary admission:

  1. through a physician’s Medical Certificate (preferred method)
  2. through police intervention
  3. through an order by a judge

In order for a physician to fill out a Medical Certificate, the physician must have examined the patient and be of the opinion the patient meets ALL four criteria:

  1. is suffering from a mental disorder that seriously impairs the person’s ability to react appropriately to his or her 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 own protection or the protection of others; and
  4. is not suitable as a voluntary patient.

This information was obtained from the 1999 Guide to the Mental Health Act. This guide is available on the internet at:

Issues of confidentiality

In British Columbia, helping professionals are ethically and legally bound not to disclose any information about a client unless…

  • Client has consented
  • You are lawfully compelled by subpoena, court order or…
  • Child protection is an issue
  • You have concerns for the client s or someone else’s safety

For more information: Ministry of Health Fact Sheet – Releasing Personal Health Information to Third Parties (pdf download)


  • may have legal and ethical relevance
  • document baselines and assist the diagnostic process