Confidentiality refers to the legal duty not to disclose confidential information without the client’s written, informed consent. There are exceptions to the duty of non-disclosure. These are set out in the statute that covers the particular activity which gives rise to the duty of confidentiality. The general rule is that one may disclose confidential information without the client’s consent when required to do so by statute (such as child or elder abuse reporting acts), and under certain circumstances to attempt to prevent harm, or in an investigation or trial for homicide.

What Laws Create A Duty Of Confidentiality?

The duty of confidentiality is created in several ways: by licensing and other statutes and regulations; by the contract between the provider and recipient of services; by professional ethical codes; and by employers’ policies and procedures.

In Illinois, mental health information is governed by the Illinois Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Confidentiality Act. Substance abuse information is governed by the Alcoholism and Other Drug Abuse and Dependency Act, which incorporates the federal regulations on confidentiality of substance abuse information. Licensed behavioral health clinicians are also governed by their licensing statutes.

What is Confidential Mental Health information?

This is information derived from any communication made by a recipient or other person to a therapist, or to or in the presence of other persons, during or in connection with providing mental health or developmental disability services to a recipient. Communication includes information which indicates that a person is a recipient.

“Mental health or developmental disabilities services” or “services” includes but is not limited to examination, diagnosis, evaluation, treatment, training, pharmaceuticals, aftercare, habilitation or rehabilitation.

“Treatment” is an effort to accomplish an improvement in the mental condition or related behavior of a recipient, and includes, but is not limited to, hospitalization, partial hospitalization, outpatient services, examination, diagnosis, evaluation, care, training, psychotherapy, pharmaceuticals, and other services provided for recipients by mental health facilities.