Nurse practitioners in B.C. can now assess crisis patients for involuntary admissions

VICTORIA — Nurse practitioners in British Columbia now have expanded authority to assess people in crisis for involuntary admission to a treatment facility under the Mental Health Act.

The New Democrat government says it changed the Mental Health Act last spring to help people get care during a mental health crisis, while respecting their legal rights.

Jennifer Whiteside, B.C.'s mental health and addictions minister, says giving nurse practitioners authority to approve involuntary admission for a patient will reduce pressures on emergency departments and help people get faster treatment.

She says when a person is in a mental health crisis, they require timely, compassionate and appropriate care.

Under the changes, a person in crisis can be admitted to a mental health facility for up to 48 hours if a nurse practitioner or doctor believes that person requires involuntary treatment.

Whiteside says the changes would also cut the time police officers need to spend in emergency rooms while waiting for patient transfers to be approved.

"This is about ensuring we have the resources in our emergency rooms so that our health-care practitioners can take that handoff from a police officer and get that individual into the appropriate care."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2023.

The Canadian Press