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Rights of People Receiving Involuntary Inpatient Mental Health Services

Disability Rights Texas Handout

Last updated: 11/01/2013
Publication Code: n/a

Rights of People Receiving Involuntary Inpatient Mental Health Services

This handout is available in Braille and/or on audio tape upon request.

All people have certain basic legal rights, including people who have mental illness and people who are in mental health facilities. In some cases, these rights can be restricted by a judge or your doctor. This handout explains your rights when you are receiving involuntary mental health services.

Rights That Cannot Be Restricted

You have some rights that no one, not even a judge or a doctor, can take away from you:

Electroconvulsive Therapy

You have the right to refuse electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). However, if you are 16 years old or older and you have a guardian because a court has determined that you are incapacitated, then your guardian can consent to ECT but only if you would have agreed to the treatment if you were not incapacitated.   If you are under 16, ECT may not be used under any circumstances.

If you have made an Advance Directive (see Disability Rights Texas’ handout, How to Make an Advance Directive) and included information about ECT, the Advance Directive must be followed when you become incapacitated, regardless of what your guardian may desire.

Habeas Corpus

You have the right of habeas corpus. In certain cases, you can ask a judge to decide if it is legal to keep you in a mental health facility against your will. If the judge decides that you should not be kept against your will, you must be immediately discharged.   This might happen if, for instance, the judge thinks you are not likely to hurt yourself or others.

Rights That Can Only Be Restricted by a Judge

You have all of the rights listed below when receiving involuntary mental health services, unless a judge has held a hearing and made a written order restricting a particular right. The court proceedings that can limit your rights are guardianship, child custody and mental health commitment proceedings.

Rights That Can Be Restricted Only by a Doctor

Your doctor can restrict some of your rights while you are receiving involuntary services in a mental health facility:

Unless your doctor orders a restriction, you have these rights:

If You Think Your Rights Have Been Violated

If you believe any of these rights have been violated, you should first contact your treatment team at the facility where you are located. Additionally, you have the right to file a complaint with any of the following:

If you are in a private psychiatric facility, you have a right to complain to the Department of State Health Services Health Facility Compliance Group at 1-888-973-0022.

Disability Rights Texas logo

Intake: 1-800-252-9108
Main Line: 512-454-4816

Disclaimer: Disability Rights Texas strives to update its materials on an annual basis, and this handout is based upon the law at the time it was written. The law changes frequently and is subject to various interpretations by different courts. Future changes in the law may make some information in this handout inaccurate.

The handout is not intended to and does not replace an attorney’s advice or assistance based on your particular situation.