Client Rights and Resources Frequently Asked Questions

If consumers or family members have complaints, must they go through the mental health agency before coming to the alcohol, drug and mental health board (ADAMH) or to the Ohio Department of Mental Health

Local resolution is encouraged, but nothing prevents anyone from contacting an ADAMH board or OhioMHAS. The grievant has the option to initiate a complaint with any or all of several outside entities, including OhioMHAS and Ohio Legal Rights Services.

What is "reasonable period of time" for filing a grievance?

There is no time limit. Many people are traumatized by the event and need time, even years, to come forth with allegations. However, the longer a grievant waits to file a complaint, the more difficult it is to review an allegation as people leave, documents are no longer available and memories fade.

What are my child's basic rights in the behavioral health system?

If your child or family needs or receives behavioral health care, you have three basic rights that support and safeguard your child and family:

  • To know and understand important information about services before you have to make any decisions
  • To fully participate in making service decisions
  • To complain about services if you feel your child’s rights or the rights of your family are being restricted or violated

Do I have access to my own or my child's medical record, and may I receive a copy of it?

Yes, unless it is restricted in the treatment plan for clear treatment reasons. If you ask, staff will explain to you the information in the medical record. There may be a reasonable waiting time for an appointment to do this. In addition, there may be a reasonable charge for copies unless you qualify for free copies based on the provider’s policy.

Who can help me protect my rights or my child's rights in behavioral health agencies or hospitals?

In Ohio, agencies and hospitals that are licensed or certified by the state to provide mental health or substance abuse services to adults and/or children and their families must have people on staff whose jobs are:

  • To help you and/or your child understand your rights
  • To respond to your complaint if you feel your rights and/or your child’s rights are being limited or violated
  • To speak up for you and/or your child and your family’s rights

These staff members are called client rights officers or patient representatives. Each agency, hospital or facility must post information about these staff members in a public place where adults, children and families can see it. The information must include names, office hours, telephone numbers and office locations.

Where can I go to get help?

One of the best places to start is the ADAMH board in your county. You can find out how to contact the board’s advocate by looking for your county on our Community Client Rights Advocates page.