Mental Health Law Manual

A manual on laws governing treatment of patients with mental health disorders

Effective August 12, 2021 CHA Manuals are available in ePub format only
The ePub includes a PDF and access to the CHA Manuals App for mobile use. CHA members may download PDFs for all CHA manuals, from the publications download library; the free CHA Manuals App may be downloaded from the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store.


Providing care to patients with mental health issues is complicated. It isn’t always easy to know what is “right” and what is “legal.”

The Mental Health Law Manual was written to help hospitals understand the laws governing mental health treatment as well as the rights of the patients they serve. The manual also details special protections for individuals who may be unable to make rational decisions regarding their care, specific requirements regarding the use and disclosure of health information and unique reporting requirements.

New for 2021

The Mental Health Law manual addresses changes in state and federal laws governing mental health treatment and privacy through August 2021, and has been updated to discuss:

  • The use of telehealth for most examinations, assessments, and evaluations of involuntarily detained mental health patients
  • Changes to Department of Health Care Services Forms 1801, 1802, 1808, and 1809 regarding involuntary mental health treatment
  • The expansion of Disability Rights California’s authority to access facilities and records
  • Changes to Department of Justice forms regarding gun possession and a lifetime ban for some patients, and the fact that hospitals are no longer permitted to help patients submit a form requesting a hearing to regain the legal ability to possess a firearm

(14th edition, 2021)


The Mental Health Law Manual contains over 300 pages, 9 chapters, forms and appendices, an index of key terms, and several forms, many available in English and Spanish.

  • Overview of Mental Health Laws
  • Principles of Consent for Mental Health Patients
  • Voluntary Admission and Involuntary Detainment for Mental Health Treatment
  • Rights of Mental Health Patients
  • Restraints and Seclusion
  • Health Information Privacy Basics 
  • Reporting Requirements
  • Adverse Events and Incident Reports
  • Payment for Medi-Cal Emergency and Post-Stabilization Mental Health Services
  • Sample Forms, Posters and Notices
  • Index


“The Mental Health Law manual is a critical resource. It’s comprehensive, well organized, and the information on what details have to be reported to which agencies is great.”
— Elizabeth Brown RN MSN MHA, Nursing Manager, Emergency Dept., Orchard Hospital

“The Mental Health Law manual gives us fast answers to questions dealing with involuntary admissions, restraints and seclusion, privacy and other issues that arise in ED and Acute Care settings. It’s great to have the references right there.”
— Regina Vukson, RN, BSBA, CPHQ, CPHRM, Senior Risk Management Consultant, Optima Healthcare Insurance Services

Preview the Manual

Click here to preview the manual.

Forms Policy

CHA includes hard copies of forms and appendices in its manuals for all purchasers. Electronic versions of forms, appendices, and the model compliance plan are available to CHA members for download at

ePub Details

CHA Members

Electronic copies of CHA Publications are available free to CHA members. CHA members may download each PDF for their individual use and/or post it to an Intranet or shared workstation environment.

CHA Nonmembers

Limited Use License: In purchasing this electronic publication (Publication), the individual who purchased it (Purchaser) agrees to abide by the terms of this Limited Use License. This Limited Use License: (1) gives Purchaser a non-exclusive, non-assignable, royalty free, perpetual, limited right to use this electronic publication only for his/her personal use; and (2) prohibits Purchaser from posting, reproducing, distributing, disseminating, transmitting, or otherwise allowing anyone else to access or use this Publication. CHA is and will be the sole and exclusive owner of all right, title, and interest, including intellectual property rights, in this Publication and its contents. CHA will strictly enforce the terms of this Limited Use License.

NOTE: Print functionality is disabled in the Individual PDF. Purchases that include electronic publications are not refundable. For questions about the policy, contact Publications.

CHA Manuals App FAQ

Following are frequently asked questions regarding the free CHA Manuals app.

  1. How do I get the app?
    Download the free CHA Manuals App from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store. Once the app is installed on your mobile device simply tap the Consent Manual icon and you will be prompted to Login and set your password.
  2. Are the cross-reference links active?
    Yes, all cross-reference links are active. If you tap a link that takes you to another place in the same chapter, use the “Return” button in the bottom navigation bar to return to your previous spot. If you tap a link that takes you to a different chapter, use the top “Back” button to go back to the previous page.
    Because the content in the app is presented as a reflowable html document, each chapter is viewed as one long page. Therefore, if you link to a different place in the same chapter there is no page to go ‘back’ and you must use the “Return” button to go to your previous location.
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    Yes, the app features a robust search functionality. Simply tap the “Search” icon in the bottom navigation bar and enter the desired search term. All instances of the search term in the manual will be displayed, with links that take you directly to the desired location.
  4. Can I print from the app?
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