Getting help

You can find information here to help you determine if you want to self represent, get free legal representation or private legal representation.

It may be a good idea to have a representative at a review panel hearing, but it is not required. You may choose to attend the hearing without a representative and present your own case – this is referred to as “self-representation”.

You may also choose to be represented by someone else, such as a family member, friend, near relative or anyone you trust.

The role of a patient’s representative is to provide advocacy by representing your interests at a hearing, and to present your case for discontinuing certification/detention.

Patients are often represented by advocates from the Mental Health Law Program. However, a patient may instead hire his or her own lawyer or ask a family member, friend, near relative or other person to represent them. Patients wishing to have private representation are responsible for making their own arrangements. For example, hiring a lawyer in private practice means that the patient chooses to make their own arrangements for legal representation, including payment for a lawyer of their choosing.

To read more about the role and responsibilities of a patient representative see Practice Direction – Guidelines for Patient Representatives.

When you apply for a review panel hearing you may request free legal representation from the Mental Health Law Program (MHLP) when completing the  Form 7 Application for a Review Panel Hearing.

To request free legal representation from the MHLP, make sure you check the option “Request free legal representation from the Mental Health Law Program (MHLP)” on your application form.  The Board office will submit the request directly to the MHLP for you.  MHLP will then contact you to discuss the availability of an advocate for your hearing.

If you have any questions regarding representation by the MHLP, feel free to call the Community Legal Assistance Society at (604) 685-3425 or toll free at 1-888-685-6222 and ask for the MHLP program.

The Mental Health Law Program (MHLP) provides patients advocates to represent patients at review panel hearing throughout the Province. Many patients who are represented at review panel hearings are represented by advocates from the MHLP.

Please be advised that MHLP does not provide information or legal advice to individuals.  MHLP staff only speak with involuntary patients who have already completed a Form 7, had review panel hearings scheduled, and have been assigned to represent the patients at the scheduled review panel hearings.

Access Pro Bono’s Mental Health Program Telephone Clinic offers 30 minutes of free legal advice about certification and Mental Health Act rights. Their website also lists other resources you may find helpful.

To learn more about the BC Mental Health Act check the Mental Health Guide by Ministry of Health 2005.

You may also go to our Resources page for more information.

You are free to contact a lawyer or advocate of your choosing at any time. You are responsible for making those arrangements, including any fees associated with those services.

If you want to hire a lawyer but don’t know how to find one, you may:

  • Ask your hospital or mental health team about contacting a lawyer.
  • Contact the Lawyer Referral Service at 604-687-3221 or 1-800-663-1919 to obtain names of lawyers.
  • Contact your local office of the Legal Services Society.

If you choose to represent yourself, the Mental Health Law Program has a guide to help you prepare for your hearing.

You may also wish to refer to our How to Prepare for a Hearing page.