Mental Health Patient Advocate Frequently Asked Questions:
Detention, Treatment and Care While in Hospital
Who can be detained in hospital under the Mental Health Act?
A youth, adult or senior who requires intensive, long-term and/or more comprehensive mental health services and supports, and who meets the certification criteria for the issuance of admission or renewal certificates under the Mental Health Act may be detained for observation, examination, assessment, treatment, and/or care.
What does it mean to be involuntary, certified or detained in a mental health facility?
In Alberta, a person who is assessed by doctors to be in need of observation, examination, assessment, treatment and/or intensive care, may be held in hospital against their will if they meet certain criteria outlined in the Mental Health Act. This is called being “detained”.
How long can a patient be detained?
Patients may be detained in a designated facility for up to 24 hours under:
• One Form 1 Admission Certificate,
• A Form 4 Certificate of Transfer into Alberta,
• A Form 8 Warrant,
• A Form 9 Extension of Warrant, or
• A Form 10 Statement of Peace Officer on Apprehension.
Patients who are under two admission certificates or two renewal certificates are referred to as “formal patients” under the Mental Health Act and may be detained for a period of one month from the date the second admission or renewal certificate is issued. If a patient is under a third or subsequent set of renewal certificates, the period of detention is not more than six additional months.
What is the certification criteria under the Mental Health Act?
The criteria for the issuance of a certificate are that the person is:
(a) suffering from mental disorder,
(b) likely to cause harm to the person or others or to suffer substantial mental or physical deterioration or serious physical impairment, and
(c) is unsuitable for admission to a facility other than as a formal patient.
Where are the designated mental health facilities?
What rights do patients under one admission or one renewal certificate have?
Patients detained in hospital under one admission certificate have many rights. See "Your Rights under the Mental Health Act – Patients Under One Admission Certificate". Patients under one renewal certificate are formal patients and have rights as a formal patient.
What rights do patients under two admission or two renewal certificates (formal patient) have?
Patients detained in hospital have many rights. See "Your Rights under the Mental Health Act - Formal Patient".
Who is notified when a patient is discharged from a facility?
Alberta Health Services is required to give notice of discharge to:
•the patient's guardian, if any
•the patient's nearest relative, unless the patient being discharged objects, and
•the patient's family doctor, if known, along with the discharge summary, including any recommendations for treatment. (Section 32(1)(c) of the Mental Health Act)
What rights do patients under a community treatment order have?
Who can I talk with if I have questions about the detention, treatment and care, rights or discharge of my family member while they are detained in hospital?
A doctor is assigned to provide care for your family member while they are in hospital. The doctor leads a multidisciplinary team of health professionals who care for and support the patient in their journey of recovery. The doctor makes decisions about the patient’s privileges and discharge planning and makes treatment recommendations. Either the patient or the substitute decision maker provides consent for treatment. In some cases under certain conditions the Review Panel orders treatment. If you have important information you want to share with the treatment team, or have questions you may wish to call the hospital and speak with the patient’s doctor or nurse.
What if my questions are not answered by the doctor, nurses or treatment team members?
If you have questions or concerns, you may talk personally with an Advocate Representative in the Office of the Alberta Health Advocates.