Who can see my mental health records?

1. Understand how you can give permission

There are many reasons why you or your may want to share your health information. The different ways you can give permission for your information to be shared are explained below.  

Silent “implied” permission

In some situations, your permission may be silent or “implied”. You don't have to sign a consent form or give verbal permission. You give permission by what you do, or by your actions.

For example, when you bring a loved one or friend to help you discuss a plan with your doctor, your doctor understands that you've given permission to share your information with your loved one. Or when you ask for a prescription, your doctor understands that you've given permission to share your information with a pharmacy.

If you don't want your information to be shared based on “implied” permission, you can ask your health-care provider to “lock” your information. Your provider will ask you to sign a form cancelling your implied permission. These are sometimes called “lock box” requests.

Verbal permission

In simple situations, you give permission to share your health information by speaking with your health-care provider. For example, when a medical student is training with your doctor and you say it's ok for them to be present while you meet with your doctor.

Written permission

Often your health-care provider will ask you to sign a form to confirm you agree to share your information. These documents are often called “consent forms”.

For example, if you're starting to see a new therapist, you can give your previous therapist written permission to share your with your new therapist.

You should think carefully about who you give permission to and for what reasons. You can cancel your permission at any time. If you change your mind and no longer want someone to have access to your records, just tell your health-care provider. It can also be helpful to write a letter or email saying you want to cancel your permission.

Permission from a substitute decision-maker

Some people aren't of making decisions about their health care or when to share their health information. In these situations, a person called a is allowed to give permission to share their information.

For more information about when a substitute decision-maker is allowed to make decisions for you, see “Can a doctor force me to get treatment if I don’t want it?

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