Central government is committed to improving services for people with mental health problems. Municipalities are prioritising improvements to mental health services. This work is categorised alongside drug and alcohol prevention and public health initiatives. The County Governor is responsible for providing the municipalities with advice and guidance.
Involuntary admission to mental health care
A person may be admitted involuntarily to mental health care only where voluntary admission has been attempted without success or where it is clear that any attempt to achieve voluntary admission would be pointless.
Strict rules apply to involuntary admission to mental health care. The patient must be suffering from a serious mental health disorder and must also fulfil criteria relating to either treatment or danger. To fulfil the treatment criteria, involuntary admission must be necessary either to prevent the patient from deteriorating or to ensure that potential for improvement is not impaired. To fulfil the danger criteria, involuntary admission must be necessary because the patient poses a threat either to his/her own or to others' life or health.
Compulsory mental health treatment
The Mental Health Act provides for patients to be examined and treated without their consent. An attempt must be made to obtain the patient's consent and it must be clear that the treatment has a high probability of resulting in complete or partial recovery or preventing deterioration in the patient's condition. Compulsory treatment may involve medication or consultations and may be given to patients who have been involuntarily admitted to mental health care on either a full-time or part-time basis.
Use of coercive measures
The Mental Health Act provides for three types of coercive measures that institutions may use in respect of mental health patients whether or not they have been admitted involuntarily. These are physical restraints (belts and straps), isolation and short-term medication.
Complaints about involuntary admissions, the use of coercive measures and measures that restrict the patient's rights should be addressed to the Control Commission, while complaints about compulsory treatment should be directed to the County Governor.