Student Rights

Student Rights When Being Admitted or Discharged from a Psychiatric Hospital or Unit

Voluntary Admission Process (Mental Health Code Sections 410‐420)

If you are admitted to a psychiatric hospital or unit on a VOLUNTARY BASIS (you admit yourself), or you are admitted by application of your guardian (with your agreement) you have the right:

  • To give written notice of your intent to leave the hospital.

    After you put your request in writing, you must be discharged within three (3) days (excluding Sunday and holidays). However, if the hospital director determines you require treatment and petitions the court for your involuntary admission you must remain in the hospital until a determination is made about your treatment by the court.

  • To be discharged when treatment is complete or when you no longer need the services.
  • To request a second opinion if the community mental health services program pre‐admission screening unit does not think you need to go into the hospital.

Involuntary Admission Process (Mental Health Code Sections 423‐450; 498)

If you are INVOLUNTARILY ADMITTED (COURT ORDERED) to a psychiatric hospital or unit, you have the following rights:

  • To make at least two phone calls.
  • To a copy of the application or petition saying you require treatment and to copies of reports by the doctors who examine you. To have a physical and mental examination within 24 hours after you are admitted, and again at least once a year.
  • To a written statement explaining that you will be examined by a psychiatrist within 24 hours after you are admitted.
  • To a written statement explaining your rights.
  • To a full court hearing.
  • To be represented by an attorney.
  • To be present at the hearing.
  • To a jury trial.
  • To an independent clinical examination.
  • To have staff, if you wish, notify your family of your admission to the hospital. If the police take you into protective custody and bring you to a preadmission screening unit, to have staff of that unit complete their examination of you within two (2) hours unless there is a documented medical reason for the delay.
  • To be examined by two doctors or by a psychologist and a psychiatrist to determine whether you need to be admitted. One of the examinations must be by a psychiatrist and the first examination may be done before you are brought to the hospital.
  • To refuse medication before your court hearing unless a physician decides you need it to prevent you from physically hurting yourself or others or if your life is in danger. If you agree to medication or treatment before the court hearing, this does not mean that you are agreeing to the hospitalization.
  • To have an independent medical examination before your full court hearing.

Within 72 hours (this does not include Sundays and holidays) after a petition and clinical certification have been filed with the court, you have:

  • The right to meet with legal counsel,
  • The right to meet with a treatment team member assigned by the hospital director,
  • The right to meet with a designated community mental health worker,
  • The right to designate an individual of your choice to meet with you and the people indicated above for the purpose of informing you of:
  • The proposed plan of service in the hospital.
  • The proposed plan of service in the community.
  • The nature and possible consequences of the involuntary hospitalization process.
  • The right to request that your court hearing be “deferred” (delayed) temporarily (60 or 90 days).
    You will be treated as a voluntary patient during this time; however, you have the right to demand a hearing at any time during the “deferral” period.

As an involuntary (court‐ordered) recipient, YOU DO NOT HAVE THE RIGHT TO REFUSE TREATMENT. However, you do have the right to ask questions about your treatment, participate in the development of your plan of service, and discuss it with your doctor or other mental health professionals. If you think our treatment is not helping, you may ask for a review of your treatment plan.

Questions You May Want to Ask About Your Medication

If you are given medication by your doctor you will need to take it according to his/her instructions. Listed below are some questions you may want to ask of the doctor or nurse so that you can have the information you need to make it as effective as possible.

  • Why do I have to take this medicine?
  • What will happen if I do not take it?
    Can I be treated without medication?
  • Before I begin taking any medicine or even if I am not taking medicine, can I have a second opinion?
  • What is the name of the medicine prescribed for me?
  • How is it supposed to make me feel? What are the side effects of the medicine? Will it affect any other medical or physical problems I have?
  • Are there side effects I should report immediately?
  • Is it similar to or different from the medicine I was taking before this?
  • How much should I take? How many times a day? What time of day? Before or after meals?
  • What would happen if I took too much?
  • Is it all right if I drink alcohol or beer when taking this medicine? Is there any food or other drink I should avoid?
  • Are there other medicines I should avoid when taking this medicine?
  • Will this medicine affect my interest and/or my ability to participate in sex?
  • How long will I need to take this medicine?
  • If I take this medicine for a long time, what can it do to me?
  • What is tardive dyskinesia (TD)? Can I get TD from taking this medicine? Can something be done to avoid this?

For women in child bearing years:

  • Will this affect my menstrual periods?
  • Should I take birth control pills while taking this medicine?
  • If I get pregnant while taking this medicine, could it have any effect on my baby?
  • Should I take it while nursing?
  • Should I drive or operate machinery while taking this medicine?
  • Is there anything else I should know about this medicine?
  • How often will you review with me what the medicine is doing?
  • How soon will I need to take this medicine?

Court Hearings (Mental Health Code Sections 452; 463)

If you are admitted to the hospital involuntarily, you have the following rights regarding court hearings:

  • To have your court hearing promptly, but not more than seven days (this does not include Sundays or holidays) after the court receives the application (petition).
  • To be present at all court hearings. During this hearing, you have the right to be represented by an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, the court will appoint one for you. Your attorney must consult with you, in person, at least 24 hours before the time set for your court hearing. (You may choose to waive the right to attend your hearing by signing a waiver witnessed by your legal counsel and filed with the court.)
  • To demand a jury trial.
  • To present documents and witnesses and to cross examine witnesses.
  • To obtain, at public expense if necessary, an independent clinical evaluation by a physician, psychiatrist, or licensed psychologist of your choice. (You must request this before the first scheduled hearing or at the first scheduled hearing before the first witness has been sworn.)
  • To a copy of the court order.

Periodic Review (Mental Health Code Sections 482; 485a)

If you have a court order for continuing involuntary treatment, you have the right to regular, adequate, and prompt reviews of your status. These reviews must be done six (6) months from the date of the court order and every six (6) months from there on.

Results of these reviews must be provided to you within five days from the time they are made part of your record and you must be informed of your right to petition for discharge.

If you do petition for discharge following the periodic review, you have the right to a hearing. In addition to that hearing, you may petition the court for a discharge hearing once within each 12 month period from the date of the original order. If, after any of these hearings, the court determines that you no longer require treatment, you will be discharged.