Treating people with mental illness fairly – a report on Mental Health Review Panels
In 2013 and 2014, the previous Alberta Ombudsman found broad areas of unfairness with Mental Health Review Panels (review panels) processes and made several recommendations to improve the situation.
We launched this investigation because the 2014 recommendations had not been fully implemented.
In Alberta, the review panels act as a safeguard to ensure patients affected by a mental illness receive fair treatment. More specifically, in accordance with the Mental Health Act (the Act), the review panels are responsible for holding hearings and making decisions related to patient admission, detention and treatment. This important process protects patients and their rights, including instances where people unable to provide informed consent may be detained and treated.
The outcome of this investigation resulted in 9 recommendations to solve problems and ensure that people with mental illness are treated fairly. A number of the recommendations focused specifically on the steps to ensure patients understand their rights under the Act.
“People with mental illness are some of the most vulnerable members of our society. When decisions affecting a patient’s healthcare come at great personal cost, it is imperative the principles of procedural fairness are consistently followed.”
Marianne Ryan, Alberta Ombudsman
Our office is committed to working with authorities to advance procedural fairness, and in the case of formal investigations, make strong recommendations that ultimately improve public services for all Albertans.
We will monitor how the review panels (and Alberta Health) implement our recommendations.