Someone You Care About Is Having Mental Health Problems

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Going to medical appointments

If the person agrees, anyone can go to medical appointments with him.  

Making medical decisions 

People can usually make medical decisions on their own. But if their decision-making ability is seriously affected by an illness or disability, the following people can usually make medical decisions for them:

  • if the person is under 18, the parent or the person acting as the parent or the guardian (tutor)
  • the person’s legal representative (mandatarytutor or curator), if he has one
  • if there is no legal representative, the person’s spouse or common-law partner
  • if there is no spouse or partner, or if the spouse or partner can’t give consent, a close relative or someone concerned about the person, such as a close friend  

Forced hospitalization

If the person doesn’t want to go to the hospital, he can be forced to go if he is a danger to himself or others because of his mental state.

Important! Patients hospitalized against their will have the right to refuse treatment, except for hygiene, in emergencies or if ordered by a judge.

Emergency situations

Usually a judge’s permission is needed to force a person to go to the hospital or stay there against his will. But in some cases, a police officer can bring someone to the hospital without his consent or a court order.  

In an emergency, you can call the police or Info-Social 811 for help from a crisis intervention worker,  if this service is available in your area. A crisis intervention worker can ask the police to take the person to the hospital without a court order. To learn more, see our article on Forced Hospitalization in Emergencies (72 hours)

If a hospital keeps a person against his will without going to court, it must notify these people: 

  • if the person is under 18, his parent, or the person acting as his parent OR his guardian tutor
  • his legal representative (mandatarytutor or curator), if he has one

The person has a right to contact relatives and a lawyer right away.

Other situations

If it is not an emergency but the person is still a danger to himself or to others, you can ask a judge at the Court of Québec to order a psychiatric exam (forced hospitalization for a psychiatric exam). This is done by filling out a form at a local courthouse or Centre local de services communautaires (CLSC – local community service centre).

A hospital can also ask a judge to order a psychiatric exam or hospitalization after a psychiatric exam. These people must be notified at least two days before the judge hears the case: 

  • if the person is under 18, his parent or the person acting as his parent AND his tutor
  • his legal representative (mandatarytutor or curator), if he has one
  • if he doesn’t have a legal representative, a member of his family, the person caring for him, or someone concerned about him  
  • if this isn’t possible, the Public Curator.

At the hearing, you can explain your version of the situation to the judge. 

When a judge orders a person to stay at the hospital and after each periodic psychiatric exam, the hospital must give the person a document explaining his rights. If the person can’t understand this information, the hospital must send the document to someone who can make medical decisions for him. If this isn’t possible, the hospital sends a copy to someone who is concerned about him.

If the person is under 18, the hospital must send a written notice to his parent or the person acting as his parent, or his guardian (tutor) at these times:

  • after each periodic psychiatric exam
  • when the person sends a request to the Tribunal administrative du Québec
  • when he is going to be released from the hospital.

If the person has a legal representative (mandatarytutor or curator), the hospital must send these written notices to his legal representative.

Forced treatment

A hospital can ask a judge to force someone to have medical treatment (forced treatment). The hospital must notify these people at least five days before the judge hears the case:

You can ask the lawyers for permission to explain your version of the situation to the judge at the hearing.

Communicating with a patient at the hospital

People hospitalized against their will can communicate freely and confidentially with anyone they want. But communication can be temporarily restricted if this is in the person’s interest. 

Doctors can’t prevent patients from communicating with their legal representative (parent or person acting as parent, guardian (tutor), mandatarytutor or curator), the person who can make medical decisions for them, a lawyer, the Public Curator or the Tribunal administrative du Québec (administrative tribunal of Québec).

Medical information

Friends and loved ones can give information to the patient’s doctor to help with the patient’s care. This information may be noted in the patient’s medical record. If the information would identify the person who gave it, that person’s permission is needed to share it with the patient.

Information in the patient’s medical record or shared with a medical professional is confidential. This information can’t be shared without the patient’s permission.

There are some exceptions though. For example, the patient’s legal representative (mandatarytutor or curator) or the person who can make medical decisions for the patient can access information in the patient’s record that is necessary to make decisions. They can ask a medical professional to explain this information.

If the patient is under 18, his parent or the person acting as his parent or guardian (tutor) can access his medical record. But the hospital can refuse to give the parent access if

  • the patient is 14 or older,
  • the patient refuses to share his record with his parent, AND
  • giving the parent access could harm the patient’s health.

The hospital can also refuse to give a parent access if the patient is under 14 and the Director of Youth Protection has been involved.

For more information, read our article on accessing medical records.