Register now! MHLAC training on Representing Parents with Mental
Illness in Family Law Cases
THE MENTAL HEALTH
LEGAL ADVISORS COMMITTEE
- THE MENTAL HEALTH LEGAL ADVISORS
In 1973, the Massachusetts
Legislature established the Mental
Health Legal Advisors Committee (MHLAC) to secure and protect the legal
rights of persons involved in mental health and retardation programs in
the Commonwealth. MHLAC,
appointed by the justices of the Supreme Judicial Court,
consists of fourteen judges and lawyers who are knowledgeable and
experienced in mental health law.
The work of MHLAC is carried out
by a small staff of lawyers who seek to make full use of the law to ensure
that the rights of persons who are or may be regarded as mentally disabled
are recognized and protected.
Over the past 27 years, MHLAC has
fulfilled its statutory mission through legal representation of
individuals, families, and associations of people involved in the mental
health system; participation in the legislative process to
promote and advance their legal rights; and participation in state and
federal administrative processes to
ensure that rights granted are effectively implemented and that services
that individuals are entitled to are actually delivered.
MHLAC's advocacy work reaches individuals
and families who have experienced such problems as denial of access to
community-based care and discrimination on the basis of disability. MHLAC
also aids adults and minors in public and private facilities who need
legal advice about commitment and discharge and the rights to receive or
refuse treatment. The recently-enacted Act to Protect the Five Fundamental Rights mandates that all programs and facilities doing
business with the Department of Mental Health ensure access to attorneys
and advocates of MHLAC and other legal service organizations.
legal staff of MHLAC provides legal referrals, information, and advice to
individuals, lawyers, mental health professionals and the general public.
MHLAC reviews new developments in mental health, housing, family, and
disability civil rights law through its legal journal, the Advisor, and
publications such as the Mental Health Law Guide
and the Managed Care Packet.
MHLAC and its staff contribute to a wide
range of education and training for judges, lawyers, and others to
maintain quality legal representation and improve the administration of
justice when issues related to mental health and disability are presented.
MHLAC also serves as Committee for Public Counsel Services Regional
Coordinator for attorneys handling civil commitment and mental health
treatment cases in Suffolk, Middlesex and Essex counties.