Voluntary Patient Rights

This handout explains your rights when seeking voluntary inpatient mental health treatment.

Who can request voluntary admission to an inpatient mental health facility?

A parent, managing conservator or guardian of a person younger than 18 may request admission even if the prospective patient does not consent. Youth in foster care can be voluntarily admitted, but must have a mental illness or demonstrate symptoms of a serious emotional disorder and present a risk of serious harm to self or others if not immediately restrained or hospitalized.

What are my rights generally as a voluntary patient?

When you seek voluntary admission to an inpatient mental health facility, you may not be able to leave the facility, even if you change your mind. In certain situations, the facility may file an application for court-ordered mental health services, even if you initially came to them voluntarily.

As a voluntary patient, you have the rights listed below.

What are my rights if I decide that I want to leave the facility?

Voluntary patients have a right to request discharge, but not all discharge requests are granted. If your treating physician determines that you need to stay, he/she must seek a court order to keep you in the facility. The process for requesting discharge is outlined below.

If I voluntarily came to the hospital, under what circumstances can my physician file an application for court-ordered mental health services?

Your physician may not file an application for court-ordered mental health services unless you have requested to be released from the facility or your physician believes you meet the criteria for court-ordered mental health services and one of the following circumstances applies:

Even if your doctor asks the court for an order that requires you to stay in the facility, it will be up to a judge to decide if you need to be committed.

Have your rights been violated?

If you believe your rights as a voluntary patient have been violated, you should contact the facility’s Client Rights Officer for help right away. If you are in a state hospital, you have a right to complain to the Office of Consumer Services and Rights Protection by calling 1-800-252-8154. 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 by calling 1-888-973-0022.


Last updated: January 10, 2022
Publication Code: IR04

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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.

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