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Massachusetts law about mental health issues

A compilation of laws, regulations, cases and web sources on mental health law.
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Table of Contents

Massachusetts laws

MGL c.19 Dept. of Mental Health

MGL c.123 Mental Health

MGL c.112, s.172A Protecting Patient Confidentiality

MGL c. 123, s.35 Commitment of Alcoholics or Substance Abusers

MGL c.6A, s.16P-16S Yolanda's Law: Enhancing children's mental health treatment

Massachusetts regulations and guidelines

104 CMR Department of Mental Health
Interpretive Guidelines for 104 CMR 29 Determining Service Authorization for Children, Adolescents and Adults 

Massachusetts court rules and standards

District Court Department Standards of Judicial Practice: Civil Commitment and Authorization of Medical Treatment for Mental Illness 

Probate and Family Court Standing Order 4-11: Administrative Process for Uncontested Rogers Reviews and Extensions

Uniform Trial Court Rules for Civil Commitment Proceedings for Alcohol and Substance Use Disorders G. L. c.123 s.35

Massachusetts Executive Orders

EO 422 Services for Mentally Ill Individuals Under Age 19


DMH Forms, Dept. of Mental Health.

Mental Health Forms, Mass. Trial Court.

Uncontested Extension of Order for Antipsychotic Medications (Rogers), Mass. Probate and Family Court.

Selected case law

In the Matter of G.P. , 473 Mass. 112 (2015). 
"Discussion of G. L. c. 123, § 35, which authorizes... involuntary civil commitment ...where there is a likelihood of serious harm as a result of the person's alcoholism or substance abuse, or both... Discussion of the Uniform Trial Court Rules for Civil Commitment Proceedings for Alcohol and Substance Abuse, which will take effect in February, 2016."

Rogers v. Commissioner of the Dept. of Mental Health , 390 Mass. 489 (1983). Outlines the requirements to be met in order to involuntarily administer anti-psychotic medications.

Rosie D. v. Romney , 410 F.Supp. 2d 18 (2006) 
Found that Massachusetts "violated ...provisions of the Medicaid Act by failing to offer necessary medical services to children in this Commonwealth who suffer from serious emotional disturbances."

Web sources

Applying for Adult Mental Health Services, Department of Mental Health

Applying for child, youth, and family services, Department of Mental Health

Campus Mental Health Know Your Rights: A Guide for Students Who Want to Seek Help for Mental Illness or Emotional Distress , Judge David L. Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, 2008

Children's Behavioral Health Initiative (CBHI) , Children's Law Center of Massachusetts. "an effort by MassHealth to provide more community-based behavioral health or mental health services to youth under the age of 21 with MassHealth and who meet certain criteria. Sometimes these services are also called "Rosie D." services." Explains eligibility and more.

DMH Resource Guides, Department of Mental Health, Health and Human Services

  • DMH Resource Guide
    • A handy listing of the cities and towns will direct you to the appropriate DMH Site Office and contact.
  • DMH Consumer and Family Resource guide
    • Tailored to the needs of consumers and families.
  • DMH Multicultural Populations Resource Guide
    • Contains information about agencies and institutions in the Commonwealth that offer culturally and linguistically appropriate services.
  • DMH Young Adult Resource Guide
    • Developed to reflect the changing needs of the young adult population who need assistance in reaching their goals.
  • Emergency Services Programs (ESP) Resource Guide
    • Lists all ESPs statewide and toll-free crisis number

Mental Health Care , Mass. Legal Help. Geared toward dealing with insurance companies or MassHealth. "This part of the website tells you how to get insurers like MassHealth to pay for your or your family's mental health services. We do not talk about how to get onto MassHealth or where to get free services. We do answer questions about how to get services paid for once you have public or private insurance."

Mental Health Legal Advisors Committee . An independent agency of the SJC, provides both advice and direct representation. Their Resources and Publications include:

Parents' How-To Guide to Children's Mental Health Services in Massachusetts, 3d ed., 2011, Boston Bar Association
Includes steps for getting help, paying for services, services in your child's school, and more

Keep Your Housing: A Guide to Help Massachusetts Tenants with Mental Health Issues Maintain Their Housing, Mental Health Legal Advisors Committee, August 2006
Detailed guide to obtaining reasonable accommodation, with forms

Quick Reference on CBHI Mental Health Services for Youth, Children's Law Center of Massachusetts, 2013.
Massachusetts must provide "behavioral health screening, diagnostic evaluation, and an array of new behavioral health services to children up to age 21 who have MassHealth." Explains services available and how to access them.

Print sources

CPCS Mental Health Proceedings in Massachusetts: A Manual for Defense Counsel , MCLE, 2015

Mental Health Law, Mass. Practice Series v.53 , Thomson/West, with supplement

Mental Health Proceedings Under Chapter 123 , Judicial Institute, Spring 2011



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