Mental Health Act

General Information

What it is

  • The Mental Health Act is a law that guides short-term assessment, care and treatment of people experiencing a mental health emergency.
  • It upholds the rights of people living with a mental health disorder.
  • It balances the rights of the person living with a mental health disorder with their need for care and treatment.

Who it’s for

The Mental Health Act does not have age limits. It can be used to help children, youth, adults, and elders.

Why we need it

The Mental Health Act is based on these principles:

  • There are no delays in making and carrying out decisions that affect a person living with mental health disorders.
  • There is respect for the person’s culture, language, and spiritual or religious beliefs.
  • Health professionals will consider the safety of the person living with the mental health disorder and others. The least intrusive approaches to treatment are offered.
  • The person’s relationship with their family and community will be considered for the best care and treatment.
  • People living with a mental health disorder will make their own decisions as much as they can.
  • Individual privacy will be respected.

Receiving treatment

A person who has a mental health emergency is examined by a health professional.

Certificate of Involuntary Assessment

Allows a designated facility to hold a person for up to 72 hours to assess the person to see if treatment is needed.

Voluntary vs. Involuntary Patient

If a person wants and needs assessment, care and treatment they are a voluntary patient. A voluntary patient may leave the facility when and if they want.

If the person does not want, but needs, assessment, care and treatment they are an involuntary patient. An involuntary patient is not allowed to leave the hospital until the doctor says they can.

Certificate of Involuntary Admission

A Certificate of Involuntary Admission allows a designated facility to hold a patient for up to 30 days.

A doctor does a psychiatric assessment of the person and issues a Certificate of Involuntary Admission if they believe the person:

  • suffers from a mental health disorder; and
  • is likely to cause serious harm to self or others, or suffer serious mental or physical decline or physical damage if not admitted to hospital; and
  • is not willing or able to be admitted as a voluntary patient.

The person’s involuntary admission can be renewed with a Renewal Certificate for longer periods if necessary.

Involuntary Treatment

Health professionals take decisions to hold someone at a designated facility very seriously. They recognize that this takes away the person’s basic rights to leave the facility.

Under the law, the doctor must be sure that the person living with the mental health disorder is not safe to be in the community at the time that the person is examined.

Health professionals will consider the safety of the person living with the mental health disorder and others. The least intrusive approaches to treatment are offered.

Doctors regularly examine involuntary patients to determine if they still meet the criteria to be detained under the Mental Health Act.

What is the Mental Health Act Review Board?

If a person who is held under the Mental Health Act feels their rights are violated under the Act, they or another person can apply to the Mental Health Act Review Board.

The Board reviews the application and decides if they need to hold a hearing to examine the situation.

If the Review Board holds a hearing, their decision is binding. This means that their decision is the same as a court ruling.

Designated Facilities

Designated facilities help voluntary and involuntary patients.

There are four (4) designated facilities in the Northwest Territories that assess, care for, and treat people living with mental health disorders.

  • Stanton Territorial Hospital
  • Inuvik Regional Hospital
  • Hay River Health Centre

For questions regarding the Mental Health Act Review Board

Mental Health Act Review Board
5015-49th St., Tatsaotı̨̀ne Building, 6th Floor
Box 1320
Yellowknife NT X1A 2L9
Phone: 867-767-9061, ext. 49177
Fax: 867-873-0143
Email: MHAct_ReviewBoard@gov.nt.ca
Website: www.nwtmhareviewboard.ca

For questions regarding the Mental Health Act

Department of Health and Social Services
Government of the Northwest Territories
5015-49th St., Tatsaotı̨̀ne Building, 6th Floor
Box 1320
Yellowknife NT X1A 2L9
Phone: 867-767-9061, ext. 49164
Fax: 867-873-7706
Email: mha@gov.nt.ca