Mental Health Institutes

Applies to: Anyone receiving services for mental illness, a developmental disability, or substance abuse at either:

Patients at the state mental health institutes have rights under:

Patient rights are explained in a brochure (P-20377) that is given to them on admission. Each patient unit also has a poster listing patient rights.

  • DHS Publication P-20377: Your Rights and the Grievance Resolution Process (PDF, 67 KB) (English)
  • DHS Publication P-20377A: Patient Rights Chapter 980 Addendum (Word, 36 KB) (English)
  • DHS Publication P-20377S: Your Rights and the Grievance Resolution Process (PDF, 61 KB) (Spanish)
  • DHS Publication P-20377AS: Patient Rights Chapter 980 Addendum (Word, 38 KB) (Spanish)

Any patient, or anyone on behalf of the patient, may file a complaint if they feel the patient's rights have been violated. Any complaints must be filed with the facility within 45 calendar days of the event involved or the patient becoming aware of the issue.

We recommend you put your complaint in writing, but verbal complaints are also allowed. The Client Rights Facilitator (CRF) will put any oral complaint in writing so it is clear.  To find out the name of the facility's CRF, contact the facility or the Client Rights Office at 608-266-2717.

A form is available for filing complaints, but its use is not required.
Complaint Report F-20009 (PDF, 12 KB)

The Division of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (DMHSAS), which operates the state Mental Health Institutes, has a four-stage grievance resolution process for complaints.
DMHSAS and DLTC Procedure Flow Chart (PDF, 5 KB)

Complaints of rights violations may also be taken directly to court under Sec. 51.61(7) Patients Rights, Wisconsin Statutes (scroll to page 54). (PDF, 588 KB)

The use of the grievance procedure is not required before going to court, but a grievance can be dismissed at any stage once the matter is taken to court.

Last Revised: February 9, 2015