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The Mental Health Act

British Columbia's Mental Health Act allows us to admit and treat people with serious mental health issues who are a risk to themselves and/or others. People who are certified under the Mental Health Act can be treated involuntarily for a mental disorder.

Our certified facilities

Currently, we have two facilities at which we are permitted to treat people who are certified under the Mental Health Act: The Forensic Psychiatric Hospital, the Red Fish Healing Centre for Mental Health and Addiction, and the Provincial Assessment Centre.

What does it mean to be certified under the Mental Health Act?

Someone who is certified under the Mental Health Act can receive treatment for a mental disorder involuntarily, or against their will. Typically, people are certified only as a last resort. To be certified for involuntary mental health treatment, a person must meet four requirements:

  • Has a mental health disorder that seriously impairs their ability to live in the community
  • Requires psychiatric treatment in a designated facility
  • Requires care and supervision to prevent deterioration or protect themselves or others
  • Cannot safely or adequately be treated in a community-based facility

Who can certify people under the Mental Health Act?

Medical doctors can certify people, and only after seeing and assessing them. As of Feb. 1, 2023, nurse practitioners can certify patients by completing the initial medical certificate, and only after seeing and assessing them. A physician must complete the second medical certificate to detain a person under the Mental Health Act for up to one month. The courts or police can assist by apprehending or transporting someone to an involuntary mental health assessment but cannot provide an assessment.

Can someone appeal a mental health certification?

Yes. A mental health certification can be appealed by British Columbia's Mental Health Review Board. Learn more on the Mental Health Review Board's website.

Learn more about the Mental Health Act.

SOURCE: The Mental Health Act ( )
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