Mental Health Law Project

The Mental Health Law Project (MHLP) is appointed by the Family Division of the Superior Court to represent Vermonters in involuntary mental health treatment and/or medication cases, both in hospitals and in outpatient settings, to ensure that their rights and liberty are protected.

We also represent the rights and interests of people with mental health problems who are potentially subject to mental health statutes and regulations under consideration by the legislature. We advocate on their behalf when the Department of Mental Health decides important issues affecting their rights or the structure of the involuntary mental health system.

Right to Refuse an Invasive Procedure

Involuntary medication evokes strong emotional responses on both sides of the issue. VLA’s Mental Health Law Project is committed to ensuring the enforcement of Vermont’s laws to protect patients’ rights and dignity.

When Norah refused medication after being hospitalized during a psychotic episode, the hospital sought approval to medicate her involuntarily by inserting a nasogastric (NG) tube down her throat. This request had never been made under Vermont’s current involuntary medication law.

MHLP successfully represented Norah, convincing the court to deny the hospital’s request to use the invasive and dangerous procedure.

Name(s) and some details have been changed to protect anonymity and confidentiality.