Becoming a Voluntary Patient

On May 2nd, 2017, I was finally discharged from extended leave after being on it for a year and a half. To outsiders, it may not seem like a big deal, but it made a world of difference for me.

Being certified on extended leave took away the feeling of control for me. It felt like I was being told what to do with my life in terms of my health and my body, not on my own accord, and left me feeling like I had no sense of autonomy or agency.

When you are certified under the Mental Health Act in BC, you are an involuntary patient that has no right to consent, which essentially means that you can be held in a hospital and be given treatment against your will. On extended leave (from hospital), the provisions remain the same, except for the fact that you are not held in hospital, but are required to follow-up with an assigned mental health team in the community and continue receiving treatment even if you don’t want to. Failing to adhere to the conditions of your extended leave may result in you being “recalled” (sent back) to hospital. For more insights on how extended leave affected my life, feel free to read: “A Personal View of Life on Extended Leave“.


Now that I am off extended leave, I feel like a newly freed person. What are some of the many benefits and differences of being a voluntary patient?

  1. I have the right to consent.

  2. I can dictate my treatment.

  3. I have the choice in taking medication or other interventions, and the right to refuse.

  4. That being said, I choose to stay on medication and adhere to my treatment plan, because I have seen that it does de-intensify my symptoms of psychosis and help me function day-to-day in this reality.

  5. I am more likely to comply with treatment as a voluntary patient, because being told what to do often makes us resist and want to do the exact opposite.

  6. It lessens the feeling of being oppressed by society.

  7. It vastly improves my self-esteem and sense of autonomy.

  8. I can travel freely whenever I want and wherever I want!

How did I celebrate being discharged from extended leave? I went for Happy Hour with my friends and had ice cream for dessert 🙂

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