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Brass and wooden gavel rests atop a round wooden base with blurry open book in the background.
Figure 10.1 Understanding all of the legal and ethical issues surrounding client care is critical to ensure the nurse can support a client who is unable to make their own choices and carry out their own actions. (credit: “Legal Gavel & Open Law Book” by “”/Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 2.0)

There are very important connections between psychiatry/mental health and the law. They both manage social behavior as well as responsibilities and relationships within society. Mental health care seeks to understand behavior and to improve or maintain quality of life. Law seeks to manage the outcomes of behavior to encourage functioning within groups of people in society. They both work together to ensure the safety of the individual and the group. The mental health nurse must understand the law to protect themselves, their clients, as well as society as a whole. Keeping clients and the nurses who care for them safe is of primary importance. The best way to protect nurse, client, and society is to be knowledgeable of the laws that govern practice at both the federal and state levels as well as the rights and responsibilities of the client.


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