Compulsory Mental Healthcare

In the care sector, compulsion means admitting or treating someone against their will, or restricting their freedom. The Compulsory Mental Healthcare Act (Dutch: Wvggz) deals with the rights of people who are required to receive compulsory care because of a psychological condition.

When is involuntary care provided?

The Wvggz applies to people in whom a psychological disorder results in behaviour that can lead to serious harm for themselves or for others. If voluntary care to eliminate serious harm is not possible, a judge or mayor can impose a compulsory medical care order. There are obligatory conditions for compulsory medical care. It can only be imposed if it is:

  • the only way of eliminating serious harm;
  • proportionate (not excessive for the serious harm that needs to be resolved);
  • effective (yielding results);

The Wvggz is not for people with intellectual disabilities or dementia; the Care and Compulsion Act (Psychogeriatric and Intellectually Disabled Persons Act, in Dutch: Wzd) applies to them.

Involvement of patients and family

The Wvggz focuses primarily on preventing compulsory medical care as far as possible and – if that is impossible – using coercion to a minimum and reducing it as quickly as possible. In this process, the patient retains control as much as possible during the entire period of compulsory mental healthcare. In addition, family members and others who are directly affected are involved in the decision as to whether compulsory medical care is needed and how to implement it.

Institutions that may provide involuntary care

Only institutions that are registered under law as a designated provider for involuntary care are allowed to provide this type of care. The designated providers can be found in the location register.