Overview

The Mental Health Patient Advocate (MHPA) was established in 1990 under the Mental Health Act. The MHPA is legislated to help people who are, or have been, detained in hospital under admission or renewal certificates and people under community treatment orders (CTO), and those acting on their behalf, to understand and exercise their rights. MHPA may investigate complaints or refer the complainant to another body that can assist.

The MHPA reports to the Minister of Health and acts independently of the health system. The MHPA is not part of a provincial health authority, hospital, clinic, or treatment team.

We can help

If you or someone you know is receiving or has received care while under the Mental Health Act, the MHPA may be able to help you. There is no cost – it is a free service.

You are not alone. We are here to help you find the information and support you need.

Anyone may submit an inquiry for information or lodge their own complaint, or a complaint on behalf of someone else. Complaints should pertain to the patient's rights under the Mental Health Act.

If you do not fall under our mandate, we will connect you with someone who can assist.

Role of the Patient Advocate

The Mental Health Patient Advocate (MHPA) may start an investigation of an individual’s complaint that may result in recommendations to a hospital board, health authority, or a psychiatrist who issued a CTO.

If the MHPA is of the opinion the hospital board, health authority, or issuing psychiatrist has not taken appropriate action on any of the MHPA's recommendations, the MHPA is required by law to send a copy of the investigation report and the hospital board, health authority, or psychiatrist's response, if any, to the Minister of Health.

The Mental Health Patient Advocate does not require a complaint in order to initiate and conduct an investigation and make recommendations into certain procedures related to:

  • admission of a person detained in the facility
  • the issuance, amendment or renewal of a CTO
  • informing a patient of the their rights
  • providing information as required by the Mental Health Act to a patient and to guardians, nearest relatives or designates of a patient

Advocacy and rights

The MHPA supports Albertans to learn about and exercise their rights under the Mental Health Act. This includes:

  • rights of individuals who are or have been detained in hospital or subject to a CTO
  • how to obtain legal counsel
  • how to apply to the Review Panel
  • how to make an appeal in the court of Queen's Bench

Learn about your rights.

The MHPA may also be asked by government to provide their perspective on policies.

Educational services

The MHPA promotes and supports individual’s rights and brings awareness to issues in mental health through:

  • free presentations, training and knowledge exchange for:
    • health professionals
    • community organizations
    • families and caregivers
    • those who use mental health services
    • post-secondary students
    • and more

To book a presentation, contact our office.

Restrictions

The Mental Health Advocate cannot:

  • represent an individual at court or tribunals
  • reverse a clinical or administrative decision
  • take disciplinary action against any health service provider
  • order any fines or other penalties
  • investigate complaints involving federal or municipal governments, police, universities, schools or other non-health related companies

Publications

Read the Mental Health Advocate’s annual reports.

Janice Harrington

Close up portrait of Janice Harrington.

Janice Harrington is Alberta’s Health Advocate and Mental Health Patient Advocate.

Janice is a passionate, respected and results-driven leader with over 2 decades of experience influencing positive public policy change in the corporate, political and not-for-profit sectors.

With an extensive background in leading complex organizations through rapid transformation and change, Janice is uniquely qualified to advocate on behalf of Albertans for positive health and mental health outcomes. She understands that navigating the system can be daunting, particularly for patients and their loved ones who may be experiencing stressful or difficult times in their lives.

A collaborator, consensus builder and advocate, her role is to break down barriers, ensure patients’ rights are always respected, and connect individuals with health and mental health resources, education and programs.

Janice is an avid volunteer and community builder. She sits on a number of volunteer boards representing the arts, social services and environmental organizations. She is the receipt of two Premier’s Awards of Excellence, as well as a Consumer Champion Award and a Corporate Social Responsibility Award for a financial literacy education program for high schools.