What are my rights in a 24-hour facility?

You have certain rights if you live in a 24-hour mental health, developmental disability or substance abuse facility. Some examples of these facilities include:

  • Group homes
  • Psychiatric hospitals
  • DD centers

Use this FAQ to help you know your rights. You can also find resources to help you protect your rights at the bottom of this page.

Three rights that cannot be limited by the facility

You can use the following three rights at all reasonable times:

Send and and receive mail

You have the right to send and receive unopened mail. Additionally, facility staff should give you access to writing materials, postage, and staff assistance if needed (N.C.G.S. § 122C-62).

Consult with an attorney or other private professional

You have the right to contact and consult with an attorney. You may also consult with private doctors, and private mental health, developmental disabilities or substance abuse professionals of your choice. However, you are responsible for paying for these services (N.C.G.S. § 122C-62). This includes the right to contact DRNC.

Consult with a client advocate

You have the right to consult with a client advocate, if there is one at your facility (N.C.G.S. § 122C-62). This includes the right to contact DRNC.

Other rights

In certain circumstances, your doctor or other treating professional may limit some of the rights listed below. You can always ask an advocate if you feel your rights have been violated.


You have the right to keep and spend a reasonable amount of your own money (N.C.G.S. § 122C-62).


You have the right to have visitors during visiting hours.  The facility must offer a period of visiting hours between 8:00 AM and 9:00 PM for at least six hours daily.  At least two hours must be offered between 6:00 PM and 9:00 PM.  However, visitation cannot take priority over therapy (N.C.G.S. § 122C-62).

Private phone calls

You have the right to make and receive confidential telephone calls. However, you are responsible for paying for the calls (N.C.G.S. § 122C-62).

Personal belongings

You can keep and use your personal clothes and belongings unless they are prohibited by law (N.C.G.S. § 122C-62).

Restraint and seclusion

You may only be put in seclusion or restraint if there is an imminent danger of abuse or harm to you or someone else. Another reason is if you are causing substantial property damage, or if your treatment team determines restraint is necessary as part of therapeutic treatment (N.C.G.S. § 122C-60).

Leaving the facility

Yes, if you admitted yourself voluntarily to a facility you can make a written request for discharge. The facility must discharge you within 72 hours (N.C.G.S. § 122C-212).

If you have a guardian, then your guardian can request your discharge. If the facility does not agree that you are ready for discharge, a court will decide (N.C.G.S. § 122C-233).

Visits outside the facility

Most people have the right to visits outside the facility. However, these are conditions where you may not have the right to visits away from the facility:

  • You have certain criminal charges against you.
  • A judge sentenced you to the facility (N.C.G.S. § 122C-62).

Physical exercise

You have the right to be outside daily. You also should have access to facilities and equipment for physical exercise several times a week (N.C.G.S. § 122C-62).

Religious worship

You have the right to worship (N.C.G.S. § 122C-62).

Driver’s license

You have the same right to apply for a driver’s license as anyone else unless a court has declared you cannot drive (N.C.G.S. § 122C-62).


You have the right to vote in an election unless a court has specifically said you cannot vote (N.C.G.S. § 122C-58).

Refusing medication

Generally, you have the right to refuse medication you do not want to take. However, there are certain situations where the facility can force you to take medication. Contact the Internal Advocate at your facility to learn more about your rights (N.C.G.S. § 122C-57).

Medical treatment

Yes. You have the right to receive necessary medical treatment (N.C.G.S. § 122-51).

Treatment for your needs

You have the right to receive age-appropriate treatment. The facility must develop and implement your individual written treatment plan within 30 days of your admission (N.C.G.S. § 122C-57).

Refusing treatment

You do not have to receive any treatment without your consent if you were voluntarily committed. You generally have the right to refuse treatment if you were involuntarily committed. But the facility can force you to receive treatment if you are in imminent danger of causing physical harm to yourself or others. The facility can also force treatment if you aren’t capable of participating in a treatment plan to help you improve without it. Another reason they can force you to to receive treatment is if there is a significant possibility that you may harm yourself or others before you improve (N.C.G.S. §122C-57).

Resources for protecting your rights in a facility

If you are concerned about a rights violation in a residential facility, you can: 

  • Contact the Internal Advocate at the facility. 
  • File a grievance with the facility. 
  • Contact the N.C. Division of Health Service Regulation. The DHSR Complaint Intake Unit will receive and investigate complaints about a violation of client rights: 1-800-624-3004 (within NC) or 919-855-4500. 
  • Contact your LME/MCO (Local Management Entity/Managed Care Organization). A list of LME offices and the geographic region they cover can be found at: http://www.ncdhhs.gov/mhddsas/lmeonblue.htm 
  • Contact the county Department of Social Services. This website provides contact information for each county’s DSS: http://www.dhhs.state.nc.us/dss/local/ 
  • Contact the accrediting organization if there is one, such as the Joint Commission. Contact the Joint Commission Office of Quality and Patient Safety by email at patientsafetyreport@jointcommission.org or call 630-792-5800. 

DRNC monitors facilities for abuse and neglect.

Contact us to report abuse and neglect in a facility.