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Forms & The Mental Health Act of Ontario

Many people are at a loss when it comes to understanding what they are legally allowed to do for a loved one struggling with severe mental health symptoms.

Hopefully this basic overview of the Ontario Mental Health Act will be helpful in elucidating this. Keep in mind this does not take the place of legal advice. The MHA is provincial legislation that regulates mental healthcare, namely assessment and treatment as well as defining the rights of the patient.

You may have heard of someone referring to “forming someone” or saying something like “we had him formed” or “we put her on a form”. The MHA outlines different Forms that can be applied to individuals based on specific circumstances. The forms are meant to detain; treatment cannot be given without consent. Here are some details on each of the forms:

Form 1:

Duration: 72 hours

Purpose: detention to allow psychiatric assessment

Completed by: a medical professional (MD or Psychiatrist)

Reasons: someone is at risk of self-harm, harm to others or unable to care for themselves

Form 42: Notifies the patient of the application of Form 1

Form 2:

Duration: 7 days

Purpose: order for examination

Completed by: Justice of the Peace, can be carried out by police

Reason: same as Form 1

Form 3:

Duration: 14 days

Purpose: involuntary admission

Completed by: a medical professional other than the one who signed Form 1

Reason: same as Form 1

Form 4:

Renews Form 3 for a further 14 days

A bit different than the forms are CTO's, or Community Treatment Orders meant to handle repeat patients. This means a patient who has been admitted more than twice in the past 3 years or more than 30 cumulative days. CTO's are meant to divert the patient to community based care.

The system is not without its flaws and would need some major overhauling to truly support everyone who needs mental health support, especially BIPOC Canadians, repeat patients and people with financial accessibility issues to mental healthcare.

This is a very basic overview of the MHA but will hopefully help you better understand how patients can be entered into the mental healthcare system and what your options are should you feel that someone is a danger to themselves, others or is unable to care for themselves.

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