Detention, treatment and care while in a mental health facility

Who can be detained, why, how patients are treated, patient rights, and locations of designated mental health facilities in Alberta.


Who can be detained in hospital

Under the Mental Health Act (MHA), a youth, adult or senior may be detained for observation, examination, assessment, treatment, and care if they:

  • require intensive, long-term and more comprehensive mental health services and supports, and
  • meet the certification criteria for the issuance of admission or renewal certificates under the MHA

A person who is assessed by qualified health professionals who determine the person meets these criteria, may be held in hospital against their will. This is referred to as being ‘detained’.  

Patients may be detained in a designated facility for up to 24 hours under either: 

  • form 1 admission certificate
  • form 4 certificate of transfer into Alberta
  • form 8 warrant,
  • form 9 extension of warrant
  • form 10 statement of peace officer on apprehension

Patients who are under 2 admission certificates or 2 renewal certificates are referred to as ‘formal patients’ under the act. They may be detained for a period of 1 month from the date the second admission or renewal certificate is issued. If a patient is under a third or subsequent set of renewal certificates, the period of detention is not more than 6 additional months.

Certification criteria

The criteria for the issuance of a certificate are the person:

  • is suffering from mental disorder
  • has the potential to benefit from treatment for the mental disorder
  • is within a reasonable time, likely to cause harm to others or to suffer negative effects, including substantial mental or physical deterioration or serious physical impairment, as a result of or related to the mental disorder
  • is unsuitable for admission to a facility other than as a formal patient, the qualified health professional may, not later than 24 hours after the examination, issue an admission certificate in the prescribed form with respect to the person


A qualified health professional is assigned to provide care for the patient while they are in hospital. The qualified health professional leads a multidisciplinary team of health professionals who care for and support the patient in their journey of recovery. The qualified health professional makes decisions about the patient’s privileges and discharge planning and makes treatment recommendations.

Either the patient or the substitute decision-maker provides consent for treatment. In some cases, under certain conditions, the Review Panel may order treatment.

Not later than one month after the issuance of a second admission certificate, the board is to provide you with a written, individualized treatment plan. The plan must include the type of treatment expected to be provided as well as the criteria on which your release would be granted and also sets out the criteria on which privileges and leaves of absence would be granted.


Who to talk to

If you have important information you want to share with the treatment team, or have questions, you should speak with the patient’s doctor or nurse. 

If you have further questions or concerns, you may contact our office to talk with an Advocate representative.

Patient rights

Patients detained in hospital under 1 or 2 admission certificates, or community treatment orders, have many rights.

Read about patient rights.

Patient discharge notification

Notice of discharge is required to be given to:

  • the patient's guardian, if any
  • the patient's nearest relative, unless the patient being discharged objects on reasonable grounds
  • the physician or nurse practitioner who treats the patient in their ordinary day to day health care needs, if known, along with the discharge summary including any recommendations for treatment

Designated facility locations

Hospitals that are designated mental health facilities under the Mental Health Act are located across the province. 


Foothills Medical Centre – Phone: 403-944-1110
Peter Lougheed Centre – Phone: 403-943-4555
Rockyview General Hospital – Phone: 403-943-3000
Southern Alberta Forensic Psychiatry Centre – Phone: 403-944-6802
Alberta Children's Hospital – Phone: 403-955-7211
South Health Campus – Phone: 403-956-1111


Claresholm Centre for Mental Health and Addictions – Phone: 403-682-3500


Alberta Hospital Edmonton – Phone: 780-342-5555
Grey Nuns Community Hospital – Phone: 780-735-7000
Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital – Phone: 780-735-7999
Misericordia Community Hospital – Phone: 780-735-2000
Royal Alexandra Hospital – Phone: 780-735-4111
Stollery Children’s Hospital – Phone: 780-407-8822
University of Alberta Hospital – Phone: 780-407-8822
Villa Caritas Hospital – Phone: 780-342-6500

Fort McMurray

Northern Lights Regional Health Centre – Phone: 780-791-6161

Grande Prairie

Grande Prairie Regional Hospital – Phone: 825-412-4000


Chinook Regional Hospital – Phone: 403-388-6111

Medicine Hat

Medicine Hat Regional Hospital – Phone: 403-529-8000


Centennial Centre for Mental Health and Brain Injury – Phone: 403-783-7600

Red Deer

Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre – Phone: 403-343-4422

St. Paul

St. Therese Healthcare Centre – Phone: 780-645-3331


Connect with the Office of Alberta Health Advocates:

Contact the Health Advocates