« Back to all Disability Topics

Rights in a Civil Mental Health Facility

Everyone living in the United States of America has certain legal rights, including individuals detained in a civil mental health facility. In Florida, individuals in mental health facilities get their rights from various sources including the Florida Statutes, the Florida Department of Children & Families policies, and from court decisions.

When an individual believes that his/her rights have been violated, he/she has a right to report that violation and seek resolution.

Rights in Mental Health Facilities

Some specific rights of individuals residing in civil mental health facilities are:

  • To be treated with dignity and respect;
  • To be free of abuse and neglect;
  • To be treated in the least restrictive setting;
  • To receive a physical examination within 24 hours after arrival;
  • To participate in the development of an individualized treatment plan and discharge plan;
  • To give express and informed consent to treatment by competent individuals;
  • To access a system for filing complaints;
  • To be free of seclusion and restraint unless imminent danger is evident;
  • To access a telephone to report abuse or speak to an attorney at anytime.
  • To access a telephone for private communication with family and friends unless such communication is deemed harmful;
  • To immediate access by a person’s family, guardian, guardian advocate, representative, attorney, or Florida statewide or local advocacy council;
  • To have personal property and clothing inventoried upon admission and to receive a copy of the inventory;
  • To vote in national, state and municipal elections if eligible and registered to vote;
  • To contact the court to request a review of the reason and legality of his/her detention, a denial of a right or privilege, or a procedure that is not being followed;
  • To reasonable accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA);
  • To protection of confidential records;
  • To access to grounds unless restricted for medical or safety reasons


Reporting Rights Violations

An individual can report a rights violation by contacting the Local Advocacy Council at 1-800-342-0825 or the Advocacy Center for Persons with Disabilities, Inc. at 1-800-342-0823.

An individual can also write to the court by filing a Writ of Habeas corpus or a Petition for Redress of Grievance to:

  • question your placement in this facility
  • question a denial of a right or privilege
  • question a procedure not being followed

Staff members at the facility will provide the individual a copy of a Writ and will assist in filing the Writ with the Clerk of the County Court.

An individual also has the right to contact an attorney.


Knowing Your Rights in a Civil Facility

QuickTime is required to view the training video. If you do not have QuickTime, you can download it here.

  • Download the Training (right click on the link and select "Save Target As")
  • Fully Accessible HTML Version (will open in a new window)

Knowing Your Rights in a Civil Facility