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Admission to and discharge from psychiatric hospitals or nursing homes. - For patients

Under what circumstances can I be admitted to a psychiatric hospital or nursing home?

If you approach a hospital voluntarily, or if you are a minor and your parents take you to the hospital, then you may be admitted if the doctor believes your treatment requires you to be admitted to the hospital.(Section 15, 16 and 17 of the Mental Health Act1987 (MH Act))

Can I be admitted against my will?

In some cases, you may be admitted against your will. If a doctor or a relative of yours believes that you may be a danger to yourself or to others, and that it is essential that you are given long-term treatment at a mental health institution, then they can apply for a reception order to the Magistrate. If he believes that you require such treatment, then you shall be admitted to the mental health institution for treatment.(Section 19 MH Act)

What can I do if I feel that I am being held in an institution unnecessarily?

If you believe you are being detained unnecessarily, then you can apply to be discharged. You may also seek some advice from a lawyer. You are entitled to free legal aid which is available at every district court (Section 91 MH Act). The Human Rights Commissions at both the state and national levels can also be approached for help.

If I feel like I have recovered, can I apply to be discharged?

If you have been admitted voluntarily then you may apply for discharge if you think you no longer need to be admitted. If the doctor certifies that you have recovered, then he shall discharge you within 24 hours. (Section 18 MH Act)

Can this request be refused?

If a doctor believes that discharging you is not in your best interests, then your request may be refused, provided he follows the procedure described below.

What are the circumstances under which my request for discharge can be refused?

If the doctor believes you haven't recovered, then within 72 hours of receiving your discharge request, he has to form a board of two medical officers who will examine you independently. If they are also of the opinion that you require treatment at the hospital itself, then the doctor can refuse to discharge you and continue treatment for up to 90 days. Once this happens, you no longer remain a voluntary patient at the psychiatric hospital or nursing home. (Section 18(3) MH Act)