How does someone get formed?

There are two types of inpatients, voluntary admission or involuntary admission, under the Mental Health Ordinance of Hong Kong. For involuntary admission, this could happen under application from any one of the following:

  • Social welfare public officer
  • Relative of the patient
  • Registered medical practitioner

Following a certificate of support of application from a registered medical practitioner, a district judge or magistrate would sign for involuntary admission of the patient to hospital, if there’s risk of harm to themselves or others, where the patient will be detained, observed, and/or treated.

In exceptional circumstances, it’s possible to keep a person in hospital under a section of the Hong Kong Mental Health Ordinance (often called ‘being formed’), and to treat them without their agreement. The decision to section someone is very serious, and can only be taken by a team of approved mental health professionals.

If you feel someone is at serious, immediate risk and will not approach anyone for help, you can dial 999 for emergency services, or the Hospital Authority Mental Health 24-hour Hotline at 2466 7350.

This is a heavy responsibility, so before taking action it’s important that you understand what might happen, and what your loved one’s rights are. It might also be a good idea to talk this through with someone you trust.

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