Judy Darcy, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, has issued the following statement in response to the Office of the Ombudsperson’s report entitled Committed to Change: Protecting the Rights of Involuntary Patients Under the Mental Health Act:
“I thank the ombudsperson for this report and for the office’s commitment to ensuring the safety and rights of people living with mental illness and addiction in British Columbia.
“The findings and recommendations outlined in this report align with our goals for mental-health care – to improve the system of mental-health and addictions care in B.C., to keep people safe and to provide people with the quality of care and support they need and deserve. Strengthening the monitoring and evaluation of the Mental Health Act will help us achieve these goals.
“Nothing is more important to me than keeping people safe. This is balanced with the need to ensure dignity and fairness when someone is vulnerable and receiving mental-health care. This is critically important as we work to improve the systems of health and mental health.
“Our government takes the safe practice of involuntary admissions under the B.C. Mental Health Act very seriously. To ensure the safety and rights of individuals are held to the highest standard, we have already taken the following actions, based on our discussions with the ombudsperson as he developed his report:
- a review of existing Mental Health Act forms and tracking tools, with the goal to develop standardized provincial tools;
- regional working groups in Fraser Health, Island Health, Northern Health and Vancouver Coastal Health, to address the recommendations in the report;
- an educational iLearn module and mental-health toolkit is available for all Interior Health staff and physicians;
- a regional lead at Island Health is working with operations, medical leads and the practice support team to create a strategic plan that addresses the recommendations outlined in the report;
- a renewed in-person education program for Northern Health physicians and staff is in the works, as well as the review and revision of existing web-based learning modules;
- weekly audits by the Provincial Health Services Authority’s psychiatrist-in-chief of all patients admitted involuntarily under the Mental Health Act at BC Children’s Hospital; and
- a video is in development to inform patients and families of involuntary admissions under the Mental Health Act and of their rights.
“Government accepts the intent of all of the recommendations in the report and the ministries of Mental Health and Addictions, Health and Attorney General, as well as the health authorities, are working together to address them.
“People who access mental-health care in B.C. deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. Anything less is unacceptable. Our priority is to build a system of mental-health and addictions care that works for everyone, and that is what we are working toward.”