Frequently Asked Questions

How do I file a complaint against a mental health care facility or professional?

Complaints about an individual physician/psychiatrist: If the physician/psychiatrist works for a hospital or agency, you may contact the doctor's supervisor. You can also file a complaint with the state medical board or the American Psychiatric Association (APA)  (some psychiatrists are members, some are not). The APA might also refer you to its APA District Branch or state psychiatric society.

Complaints about other mental health professionals: If they work for a hospital or agency, you may file complaints with the therapist's supervisor, the hospital ombudsman or the administrator. Therapists are regulated by their licensing boards (such as the state board of health and mental hygiene, counseling or other licensing board). They may also be members of their professional associations (such as the National Association of Social Workers or the American Psychological Association).

Abuse or neglect in an institutional setting: Protection and Advocacy Agencies advocate on behalf of individuals with mental illness who are in institutional settings– jails, correctional facilities or state psychiatric hospitals. Allegations of abuse or neglect are one of their top priorities.

Complaints of abuse, neglect or mistreatment in the hospital setting: You may file a complaint directly to the hospital ombudsman or administrator. 

Or, you may contact The Joint Commission (formerly known as JCAHO, the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations) online or call their toll-free Compliant Hotline at 800-994-6610 to share concerns regarding quality of care. The Joint Commission accredits hospitals, home health agencies, nursing homes, outpatient clinics, behavioral health care programs and managed care plans among others. Complaints should be related to patient rights, quality of care, safety, infection control, medication use and/or security. They are unable to assist with billing, insurance or payment disputes.

Complaints about a CMHC (community mental health center): You may file a complaint with the state mental health agency. Medicaid and Medicare recipients with complaints about CMHCs have the following options:  Medicare beneficiaries may contact the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) regional Medicaid Service and the state Peer Review Organization. Medicaid beneficiaries may contact the state Medicaid official, and perhaps the state medical review board could help.

Your NAMI Affiliate may be able to assist you with identifying options as well.

Back to questions