Mental Health Law Project

The Mental Health Law Project (MHLP) is appointed by 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 Helene was committed to the hospital, the hospital sought approval to medicate her involuntarily even though Helene was already accepting prescribed medications after consultation with her psychiatrist. Furthermore, the state asked the court to order involuntary medications that were not in the state’s application for involuntary medication, and that were not disclosed to Helene’s lawyer until the night before the hearing.

MHLP successfully represented Helene, convincing the court to deny the hospital’s request because she was already accepting medications voluntarily.

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