If you are a consumer who receives services and supports from the Department of Mental Health or through a community provider, you are entitled to certain rights and protections detailed in a Consumer Rights Statement [PDF].
To assure that these rights are protected, the Department set up a consumer grievance program called FAIR [PDF] through which you can voice your complaints or concerns if you believe that your rights have been denied or you have been treated unfairly. This program enables a consumer to be a self-advocate and assures that you will be heard. A grievance can be filed by the consumer, legal guardian, or other party acting on behalf of the consumer. It can be expressed orally or in writing. Further, a consumer has the right to be assisted throughout the grievance process by any person chosen by the consumer.
The Department posts the Consumer Rights Statement [PDF] which cites the grievance procedure in its offices where it can be easily seen and requires that each provider post a similar policy and make copies available to consumers.
Resolving a Grievance
Consumers have the right to discuss any complaints or concerns informally with the Department or with a provider. Often, concerns can be resolved in this manner. You can get assistance from a peer advocate to help you through this process.
People who are not satisfied with the informal process or choose not to use it have the right to have their complaints heard through a formal grievance process. Further, consumers have the right to oral and written instructions for filing a grievance. Every mental health provider must have a person whose job it is to help file grievances. In addition, the Consumer Action Network (CAN) serves as the peer advocate organization and offers help with filing a grievance and support throughout the grievance process. You can call (202) 842-0001 to arrange for assistance.
The FAIR [PDF] fact sheet explains how to file a grievance and gives an overview of the process for resolution. The Grievance Rules [PDF] adopted by the Department govern the formal grievance and resolution process which includes set time limits. Generally, if a complaint is about a specific action, a grievance must be filed within six (6) months of the incident.
If you need assistance at any time during the grievance process, please contact a grievance specialist in the Office of Consumer and Family Affairs at (202) 673-4372 or the TDD Access Helpline at (202) 673-7500.