People under 19 can make decisions about their own medical care if they are “capable”. The law considers you capable if you understand the following:
- The need for a medical treatment
- What the treatment involves
- The benefits and risks if you get or don’t get the treatment
If the doctor explains these things and decides that you understand them and the health care is in your best interest, you can make the decision about whether or not to agree to the treatment, including taking medication.
Can anyone force me to be treated for a mental health problem?
You can be forced to have medical treatment in very limited circumstances. Treating someone without their consent is a very serious matter and the Mental Health Act sets out strict conditions that must be followed before that can happen.
A person who is over the age of 16 can be put in the hospital for psychiatric treatment against their will for up to 48 hours if a doctor signs a medical certificate. Two doctors must sign the certificate to keep someone in the hospital for more than 48 hours. The medical certificate must say:
- the doctor signing it has examined the person,
- that, in the doctor’s opinion, the person being admitted has a mental disorder and the reasons for that opinion,
- that the person needs to be admitted requires treatment, AND
- that the person needs to needs to be admitted to prevent him or her from serious physical or mental deterioration OR for his or her own protection or the protection of someone else.
A person who is under 16 can be put in the hospital for psychiatric treatment with or without their consent if a parent or guardian requests it and a doctor decides that the young person has a mental disorder.
In all cases, you have the right to be told why you’ve been admitted and the right to contact a lawyer immediately. If you want to leave the hospital but your doctor won’t let you, you can ask for a hearing by a review panel or court.
You can get legal help with the review by contacting the Community Legal Assistance Society (CLAS)’s Mental Health Law Program.
Call (604) 685-3425.