Everyone Deserves To Control Their Own Health Care
In BC, people with involuntary status under the Mental Health Act have no right to control what psychiatric treatment they receive. People are ‘deemed’ to consent to all psychiatric treatment and can be forcibly administered psychotropic medications and electroconvulsive shock therapy. CLAS is fighting to ensure that people can control their own health care and have their loved ones involved in making decisions when needed. BC is the only province in Canada that gives doctors the absolute and unchecked power to force psychiatric treatment on all involuntary patients without consent. CLAS is pushing for BC to recognize the health care consent rights that the rest of Canada recognized many years ago.
In September 2016, CLAS launched a Charter challenge on behalf of two individuals who have undergone forced psychiatric treatment and the Council of Canadians with Disabilities. The case challenges the laws in BC that remove any right for involuntary patients to give or refuse consent to psychiatric treatment, either for themselves or through a trusted family member or friend.
Many people who are involuntary patients under the Mental Health Act – whether they are in hospital or living in the community on leave – are capable of making their own treatment decisions, but they have no legal right to do so. Doctors are not legally required to assess whether the person is capable of making treatment decisions before forcing psychiatric treatment against the person’s will. This disturbing approach to forced treatment reinforces hurtful stereotypes by equating having mental health problems with being mentally incapable.
Sarah was 24-years-old when she voluntarily went with her mother to a BC hospital for help with feelings of depression. Sarah was then involuntarily detained and treated. She says being forcibly medicated is terrifying and dehumanizing. “My clothes were stripped off me and I was pinned down by four male security guards while someone injected a needle into my backside. I was not given any say in my treatment, and even my mom was not allowed to make decisions for me. I’ve learned how to manage my depression with cognitive behavioural therapy and support from my family. I want to be able to direct my own treatment and recovery.”
We are working with the government lawyers to make a plan to bring this case to trial.
Lawyers Working On This Case
Press Release September 2016 - Charter challenge of forced psychiatric treatment filed in BC Supreme Court
What You Can Do
Express your concerns about the deemed consent law by contacting the British Columbia Ministry of Health.
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