County of Marin Health and Human Services

Patients’ Rights Advocate Services

The Patients’ Rights Advocate can be reached at:
(415) 473-2960 phone or by email at

Marin County Behavioral Health and Recovery Services contracts with Mental Health Association of Alameda County to provide Patients’ Rights Advocacy to clients receiving mental health services in Marin County.

It is the goal of our program to assure that persons with mental illness receive quality treatment in a safe environment.  We act to make certain that mental health clients are provided treatment in a manner that safeguards the rights afforded them in the law, including rights guaranteed by the constitution of the United States and the codes and regulations of the State of California.

We do this through five main activities:

  1. Investigate complaints of abuse and neglect and work with facilities to find solutions in those cases where complaints are substantiated.
    1. We respond to questions and complaints from patients in psychiatric hospitals/facilities, and residents of adult residential homes who feel one or more of their rights have been denied.  (Calls are also received from concerned family members or friends on behalf of a relative or friend.) 
  2. We monitor psychiatric facilities for compliance with codes and regulations and assist facilities in the development of policies and procedures that support their compliance with legal requirements.
  3. We represent patients in hearings regarding involuntary treatment to assure when treatment is provided on an involuntary basis, the due process rights of the individuals are respected in accordance with basic principles of the constitution.
    1. Representation is provided at Certification Review Hearings, when patients are detained beyond the 72 hours of a 5150 and are placed on an additional involuntary hold for up to 14 days.  These clients will automatically be provided a hearing in which a judicial officer will determine if there is probable cause for continued involuntary detention.
    2. Representation is provided at Capacity Hearings when a patient is refusing medication prescribed by a psychiatrist and that physician believes the patient lacks the legal capacity to utilize a rational thought process to make a decision about accepting treatment with psychotropic medications.
  4. Provide education - We provide training and education to providers, consumers, family members and interested members of the community.
    1. We give in-services to treatment providers to help them understand the rights of their clients and least restrictive approaches to treatment;
    2. We offer presentations for consumers to assist the understanding of their rights as clients of mental health treatment and provide suggestions to help empower them to advocate effectively on their own behalf;
    3. We outreach to family members to help them understand the rights of their loved ones and dispel misunderstandings surrounding the process of involuntary hospitalization (e.g., 5150), and other members of the community to provide education about our services as well offer to provide presentations regarding the laws governing mental health treatment, to offer trainings on patients’ rights and mental health law to consumers, providers and other interested parties.
  5. Provide consultation to treatment staff and administrators to help them appropriately apply the law to treatment decisions.
    1. Doctors, Social Workers, Administrators, and others call our office in cases where there is concern for what is clinically in the best interests of their patients and they wish to assure they are complying with laws protecting the rights of their patients.  Our familiarity with the law and the legislative intent of the law allows us to provide creative solutions to what may appear to be a clash between the law and clients’ clinical needs. We assist the facility personnel in finding least restrictive approaches to treatment, maintaining compliance with laws and regulations and minimizing potential liabilities in their clinical decisions.

The Patients’ Rights Advocate can be reached at:
(415) 473-2960 phone or by email at

Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you think your rights as a mental health client have been violated.  We also welcome contact from any individual who has questions about patients’ rights, would like to schedule a presentation or educational session.

If you are a mental health treatment provider and would like to schedule an in-service, please email us with a request and include suggestions of several potential dates you would like to have us.

Mental Health and Substance Use Services (MHSUS) changed its name to Behavioral Health and Recovery Services (BHRS).  As such, all references in existing departmental policies and procedures to MHSUS can be understood to reference BHRS as well.