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BC Ombudsperson welcomes youth mental health report released today by the Representative for Children and Youth

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Victoria – A report released today by the Representative of Children and Youth on the involuntary detention of children and youth underscores recommendations made by the Ombudsperson about the need for legal rights advice for people who are involuntarily detained under the Mental Health Act.

The Representative for Children and Youth’s report, Detained: Rights of Children and Youth under the Mental Health Act, explores the involuntary detention of children and youth in psychiatric facilities. The report makes 14 recommendations, including a call for an independent body to provide legal rights advice and advocacy to young people who are detained, similar to recommendations made in the Ombudsperson’s 2019 report, Committed to Change: Protecting the Rights of Involuntary Patients under the Mental Health Act.

“I welcome today’s report from the Representative and her team which spotlights the need for young people who are involuntarily detained to receive legal rights advice,” said Ombudsperson Jay Chalke. “Despite government’s acceptance of my recommendations for rights advice two years ago, concrete implementation steps have not yet been taken. The stories of young people detailed in today’s report further highlight the importance of a system of independent legal rights advice.”

In its 2019 investigation the Ombudsperson found serious flaws in compliance with legal safeguards required on involuntary admission to designated psychiatric facilities in the province. In the report, the Ombudsperson called on the Ministry of Attorney General to develop an independent rights advisor service that would work in designated facilities in the province and provide advice to patients about the circumstances of their detention and their options if they disagree with the detention or a related decision. The ministry accepted these recommendations in principle and committed to seek funding and legislative approvals.

“With the Representative’s report released today, I am calling on the government to deliver on our two offices’ recommendations, and take prompt action so that all involuntary mental health patients, including youth, receive timely, fair and accurate legal information.”

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