Message from the Chair
The Mental Health Review Board provides an extremely important protection of a fundamental personal right - the right of all persons to liberty. And only under certain defined criteria under the Mental Health Act can that right be taken away. The criteria as set out in the Mental Health Act are as follows:
- that the person or patient is a person who has a disorder of the mind that requires safe and effective psychiatric treatment and seriously impairs the person's ability to react appropriately to their environment or to associate with others;
- that the person or patient requires treatment in or through a designate facility;
- that the person or patient requires care, supervision and control in or through a designated facility to prevent their substantial mental or physical deterioration or for the protection of themselves or others; and
- that the person or patient cannot suitably be admitted as a voluntary patient.
Currently there are approximately 85 board members who in panels of three members, conduct 700 hearings a year to assess whether the criteria have been met. Their decisions are independent of any influence from the facilities and any other source. Each member of the board has been carefully selected for their professional qualifications and for their experience, interest and commitment to mental health. The resumés of the board members are impressive; the bios of the Board members are available on our website under Mental Health Review Board members.
We work under tight time lines to schedule hearings in all parts of the province (within fourteen days of an initial application). The members travel on a few days notice and reschedule their daily plans to do this work. A high cancellation rate for hearings for a variety of reasons also makes the job a challenge. However, the rewards are many - the ability of a patient or his/her advocate to tell an unbiased group of citizens why he/she should be decertified is an important check on the necessity for the continuation of the medical certification - most patients are very appreciative of their "day in court".
Margaret Ostrowski Q.C.