Can I be forced to stay in a psychiatric facility?

2. Understand your rights if you’re younger than 16

If you’re younger than 16 years and you’re an informal patient, your options depend on whether or not you’re younger than 12 years.

You’re an informal patient if:

  • a doctor has decided you cannot understand your own health care,
  • another person, known as a substitute decision maker (SDM) makes your health-care decisions for you, and
  • your SDM decided you need to be in a .

Younger than 12 years

If you’re an informal patient younger than 12 years old, you cannot challenge your SDM’s decision to make you stay in a psychiatric facility.

Your SDM can do that because the doctor decided you cannot make your own health-care decisions. Your only option is to challenge the doctor’s decision.

You can apply to the Consent and Capacity Board (CCB) to show that you’re capable of understanding your own health-care decisions. If the CCB agrees with you, then you can make your own decisions.

12 to 15 Years Old

If you have to stay in a psychiatric facility as an informal patient and you’re 12 to 15 years old, then you can challenge your SDM’s decision to make you stay there.

The facility must give you information about your right to apply to the CCB to review your status as an informal patient.

If you apply to the CCB to review your status, they look into your situation and decide whether you must stay in the facility or if you can leave.

Apply to the CCB

You can get help applying to the CCB from a Rights Adviser with the Psychiatric Patient Advocate Office (PPAO). A Rights Adviser will come to the facility to meet with you and help you complete your application to the CCB.

Once you’ve applied to the CCB, it’s best to get advice from a lawyer. The PPAO Rights Adviser can help you choose a lawyer and can contact the lawyer for you. The Rights Adviser can also complete an application for legal aid to pay for your lawyer. You can contact the PPAO at 1-800-578-2343.

If you’re under 18 and don’t know whether you should apply to the CCB, you can speak with a lawyer for free advice or get legal help with your situation by contacting Justice for Children and Youth at 1-866-999-5329 or at www.jfcy.org.

Once you send your application to the CCB, your hearing usually happens within one week.

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