Office of Recipient Rights

General Information

When you receive mental health services, Michigan's Mental Health Code and other laws safeguard you rights.  Staff are responsible to protect your rights when they provide services to you.  You are encouraged to ask questions about your treatment and about your rights to make suggestions that you feel are in your best interest.  If you believe your rights have been violated, you should inform a Rights Officer/Advisor.

Mental Health Code Section 706, 706a

A t the time you make a request for, or when you begin to receive, mental health services you will be given information about the rights guaranteed by chapter 7 and 7A of the Mental Health Code.  This is usually done by giving you a booklet with a summary of these rights and by having a complete copy of these chapters available for your review.

If you receive services from a community mental health services program, you should also be given a pamphlet containing information regarding available resources, advocacy and support groups, and other relevant information, including how to contact Michigan Protection and Advocacy Services, Inc

Mental Health code section 702

Just because you are ordered by a court to receive mental health treatment or services does not mean that you are incompetent.  You still have the right to have a driver's license, marry and divorce, make a will, but and sell property, manage your own affairs and decide most things about your life. You will continue to be treated as competent and has appointed a guardian for you.  A guardian is authorized by a judge to make certain decisions for you.  for some people, a guardian makes major decisions; for others, the guardian decides only those specific things listed in a court order. 

If you do have a guardian and:

  • You think you should be able to make more decisions for yourself, or
  • You think you don't need a guardian, or
  • You think you need a different guardian
    then you, or someone on your behalf, may go to the court and ask (petition) for a change of guardianship.

Mental Health Code Section 100 a(15)
Administrative Rule 330.7003

You must give informed consent

  • To receive treatment or,
  • To have any confidential information about your provided to others by the agency   from which you are receiving services.

In order to be able to give informed consent:

  • You should be told about the risks, benefits, and available alternatives to a course of treatment or medication (KNOWLEDGE)
  • You should be able to reasonably understand the information including the risks, benefits, available options or alternatives, or other consequences.  (UNDERSTANDING)
  • You should not be forced or pressured into a decision.  The choice you make should be a decision.  (VOLUNTARY) 

This consent must either:

  • Be in writing and signed by you, your legal representative, or
  • Be your verbal agreement to something that is witnessed and put in writing by someone who is not treating you at the time.

Dignity and Respect
Mental health Code Section 704,711

The law requires all mental health service providers to assure that you are treated with dignity and respect.  Examples of staff not showing respect include calling you names, making fun of you, teasing, or harassing you.

Your family members also have the right to be treated with dignity and respect.  In addition, they must be given:

  • An opportunity to provide information about you to your treating professionals.
  • An opportunity to request, and receive, general education information about the nature of mental disorders, medications and their side effects.
  • Information about available support services, advocacy groups, financial assistance, and coping strategies.

Freedom from Abuse and Neglect
Mental Health Code Sec. 722; Administrative Rule 330.7035

You have the right:

      Not to be physically, sexually, or otherwise abused. (Sexual harassment is also considered 

       Not to be neglected.

If you have been abused or neglected, or suspect another recipient has been, you should report it right away to a staff person and to the Office of recipient Rights.

Fingerprints, Photographs, Audiotape,
Videotape, and use of One-Way Glass 
Mental Health Code Sec. 724

You have the right:

Not to be fingerprinted, photographed, audiotaped, videotaped, or viewed through a one-way glass unless you or your legal representative agree in writing.

If someone wants to photograph, videotape, or record you for educational, informational, social or treatment purposes, that person must first ask if you object.  if you do object it will not be done.

While doing an investigation to determine if your rights were violated, the Rights Office may need to take your picture.  This will be kept in your confidential records maintained in the Rights Office.

When they are no longer needed, or upon discharge, and fingerprints, photographs, audiotapes, or videotapes in your record must either be given to you, or destroyed.


You have the right to:

Have information about your mental health treatment kept private. Information about you and your treatment cannot be given to anyone except as required or allowed by law. Listed here are situations when confidential information may be released:

  • If a law or a court order requires your records be released.
  • If you, or your legal representative, consents.
  • If needed to get benefits for you or to get reimbursement for cost or treatment.
  • If it is needed for research or statistical purposes, with certain safeguards regarding identification
  • If you die and your surviving spouse or other close relative needs the information to apply for and receive benefits.
  • If you tell your mental health professional that you are going to harm another person, he/she may have to notify the police and the person who you threaten to harm.

Access To Your Record
Mental Health Code Sec. 748

You have the right:

To see your record.  Upon request, you or your legal representative may read or get a copy of all or part of your record.  There may be a charge for the cost of copying.

If you are an adult and the court has not judged you incompetent (appointed a guardian for you), information entered in your record after march 28, 1996 may not be withheld from you under any circumstances.

If you are denied access to your record, you, or someone on your behalf, may appeal the decision.  Contact your rights officer/advisor for information about the appeal process.

If you or your legal representative believe your record contains incorrect information, you or they may place a statement in your record which corrects that information.  You may not remove what is already in the record.

Environmental Rights
Mental Health Code Sec. 708

You have the right:

To treatment in a place which is clean and safe.

If you are receiving services from a residential program, the place where you live must have good lighting, enough heat, fresh air, hot and cold water, a bathroom with privacy, personal storage space, and it should be free from unpleasant smells.

Civil Rights
Mental Health Code Sec. 740;  Administrative Rule 330.7009

Even though you are receiving mental  health services, you cannot be denied your civil rights.  You have the right to an education, the right to vote*, and the right not to be discriminated against because of your:

  • Age
  • Color
  • Height
  • National origin
  • Physical or mental disability
  • Sex
  • Religion
  • Race
  • Weight

    *Information about registration and voting may be obtained from the Recipient Rights Office.

  • As A person with mental disability, your rights may be additionally protected under:
  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
  • Fair Housing Amendments Act
  • Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act
  • Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
  • Rehabilitation Act, Section 504
  • Michigan Handicapper Civil Rights Act

Knowing about these laws will help you exercise your rights and prevent discrimination.   If you, your advocate, or family members are interested in these laws, or any other laws which affect your as a person receiving mental health services, contact your Recipient Rights Office for more information.  If you, or someone on your behalf, think that you have been discriminated against, a complaint may be filed with the Recipient Rights Office at any time, even after you are discharged.   Additionally, you may file a discrimination complaint with either: 

  • The Michigan Department of Civil Rights, 303 W. Kalamazoo Street, Lansing, Michigan 48913, 1-800-482-3604;
  • The United States Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), office of Civil Rights 300 Wacker Drive, Chicago, Illinois 60606, 1-312-353-2531

To file with these agencies you must write to them within 180 days of the time the alleged discrimination occurred.  If you are still not satisfied you may also sue in the State Circuit Court or Federal District Court.

In addition, there are many governmental organizations available to assist you if you think your rights have been violated.

Federal Agencies

For more information on how an individual with a disability may be reasonably accommodated at work, call the Job Accommodation Network at 1-800-526-7234, (voice/TTY) or 1-800-ADA-WORK (voice/TTY).

If you feel your rights under Title II of the ADA have been violated by state or local governmental agencies, you may file a complaint with the Department of Justice.   This must be done within 180 days from the date of discrimination.  In certain circumstances, cases may be referred to mediation programs sponsored by the Department of Justice.  The Department may bring lawsuit where it has investigated a matter and has been unable to resolve the violations.  For more information or to file a complaint, contact the Disability Rights Section, Civil Rights Division, U.S. Department of Justice, P.O. Box 66738, Washington, DC 20035-6738.  You may also call 1-800-514-0301 (voice) or 1-800-514-0383 (TTY).  

For violations of title III of the ADA places of public accommodation (e.g. restaurants, doctors offices, grocery stores, hotels) complaints may filed with the Justice Department and in certain circumstances cases may be referred to a mediation program sponsored by the department.  The department is authorized to bring lawsuits where there is a pattern or practice of discrimination in violation of Title III or where an act of discrimination raises an issue of general public importance.   Title lll may also be enforced through a private lawsuit.  See the address and phone numbers given above.

For violations of the Fair Housing Amendments Act, you may file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban development.  For more information on filing a complaint, contact the Office of Program Compliance and Disability Rights, Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, 451 Seventh Street, S.W., Room 5242, Washington, DC 20140.  You may also call the Fair Housing Information Clearing House at 1-800-343-3442 (voice) or 1-800-183-2209 (TTY).

Under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons act, the attorney General may initiate civil rights lawsuits when there is reasonable cause to believe that the conditions are significant enough to subject residents to serious harm and they are part of a pattern or practice of denying residents' constitutional or federal rights including Title II of the ADA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.  For more information or to bring a matter to the attention of the Department of Justice, contact the Special Litigation Section, Civil Rights Division, U.S. Department of Justice, P.O. Box 66400, Washington, DC 20035-6400, (202) 514-6255 (voice/relay).

Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, if a parent disagrees with the proposed IEP, he/she can request a due process hearing in a review from the Michigan department of Education, if applicable in that state.   He/she can also appeal the state agency's decision to the state or federal court.   For more information about this act and your rights, contact the Office of Special Education Programs, U.S. Department of Education, 330 C Street N.W., Room 3086, Washington, DC 20202, (202) 205-5507 (voice) or (202) 205-9754 (TTY).   

Under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation act, no qualified individual with a disability in the United States shall be excluded from, denied the benefits of, or be subject to discrimination under any program or activity that either receives federal financial assistance or is conducted by and executive agency or the U.S. Postal Service.  If you feel that you have been discriminated against by any agency receiving federal money based on disability , you can file a 504 complaint with an appropriate agency by contacting the Disability rights section, Civil Rights Division, U.S. Department of Justice, P.O. Box 66738, Washington, DC 20035-6738, 1-800-514-0301 (voice) or 1-800-514-0383 (TTY).

State Agencies

If you are a recipient who believes that you have been discriminated against in your job because of your race, gender, marital status, etc., you are protected under Michigan's Elliott Larsen Act. If you believe you have been discriminated against based upon disability, you are protected under the Michigan Handicapper Civil Rights Act.   For more information regarding either of these laws, contact the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, at 303 W. Kalamazoo Street, Lansing, Michigan 48913, 1-800-482-36040. 

If you are a consumer, or the parent of a consumer, and have questions concerning special education or would like to file a complaint regarding special education services, contact the Michigan Department of Education, Office of Special Education, P.O. Box 30008, Lansing, Michigan 48909, (517) 373-0923..