Advancing the rights and opportunities of persons with mental disabilities through quality legal advocacy and education in Massachusetts
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Welcome to the Mental Health Legal Advisors Committee (MHLAC)

For over 40 years, children and adults with mental disabilities have looked to MHLAC for vindication of their rights against discrimination and to appropriate services. An independent state agency of the Supreme Judicial Court, MHLAC provides advice and direct legal representation on a wide range of legal issues. These include: access to services, treatment rights, equitable treatment in custody and visitation matters, guardianship abuse, insurance discrimination, educational rights, housing bias, and mistreatment in institutional and community settings. In addition to providing direct legal representation and advice, MHLAC lawyers also train judges, attorneys, and advocates; interpret and analyze legislation; and produce brochures and longer publications on pertinent legal matters.

This website is intended to inform individuals and families about the work of MHLAC, including special projects devoted to children confined in DYS facilities and to protecting parents’ rights to fair treatment in custody and visitation actions (the Clubhouse Family Legal Support Project). This site is also intended to be a resource to advocates, lawyers, mental health professionals and others interested in assisting individuals with mental disabilities to assert their rights and advocate for themselves.

Specifically, our online library lists publications and legal resources for many subject areas under headings according to each topic.  If you are looking for support other than legal, our flyer called, “Are you Looking for Support?” may be very useful.

MHLAC welcomes your comments, questions and suggestions about our site via email



Thank you for participating!

Thanks to everyone who made MHLAC's June 20th event a success. It was a great day of learning and networking. For details about future events, check out our Upcoming Training page. We look forward to seeing you all again!

Details coming soon about our 2015 Training events!


News and Information

  • Interested in learning about MHLAC. Read the 1st edition of MHLAC eNews. If interested in receiving future newsletters (quarterly) via email, please send your request to to be added to our mailing list.

  • NEW! See "The Unintended Results of Payment Reform and Electronic Medical Records" article written by Susan Fendell for Suffolk Law's Journal of Health and Biomedical Law.

  • NEW! See Kate Nemens quoted in "Predictive Neglect: Programs May Modify Outcomes Records," a recent online article in New England Psychologist.

  • Testimony on H.836 submitted to the Joint Committee on Financial Services on March 5th.

  • Testimony submitted to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education regarding proposed regulations implementing C. 222. MHLAC also participated in the drafting and submission of public comments as part of the Education Law Task Force.

  • View our MHLAC Outreach Packet for information we have distributed during our presentations with advocates throughout the state. If you are interested in scheduling MHLAC to present at your event, please contact us at

  • People with a Mental Health Diagnosis or Lived-experience We are looking for reports of you being denied care for physical problems because of your mental health history!

    Have you ever experienced medical symptoms that were not taken seriously because the doctor knew about your psychiatric history? Were you denied care for a physical problem because staff told you “it was all in your head”? If so, please let MHLAC know so that we can learn more about the misuse of psychiatric records and advocate for consumer control of records.

    • Please email us at: Please give as full a description as possible of what happened. We keep identifying information confidential unless you specifically say that we may use it in our efforts. If you do not want MHLAC to know your name, you can mail your account to us at:

      Miriam Ruttenberg
      Mental Health Legal Advisors Committee
      24 School Street 8th Floor, Boston, MA 02108; or
      fax from a public location to MHLAC at (617) 338-2347

  • MHLAC White Paper on Electronic Health Records. Integration of behavioral and physical health care is popular and so is the integration of electronic health records. But research shows that physicians recommend different treatment and are more likely to misdiagnose patients for whom they have access to records revealing a psychiatric history. The white paper supports the need for persons with psychiatric histories to control who can have access to their mental health information.

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