Compulsory admission to mental health facilities is a controversial topic, as it impinges on personal liberty and the right to choose, and it carries the risk of abuse for political, social and other reasons (Gostin, 2000). However, involuntary admission can prevent harm to self and others, and assist people in attaining their right to health, which, due to their mental disorder, they are unable to manage voluntarily. Since the 1950s and 1960s, the delivery of mental health has shifted from a paternalistic emphasis on the need to treat those who are not able to look after themselves, to the rights of patients who have a mental illness. The Principles for the Protection of Persons with Mental Illness (‘the MI Principles’) adopted by the United Nations in 1991 play an important role in raising awareness about the human rights of people with mental health problems. They provide guidance on areas such as the procedures for involuntary admission to mental health facilities and standards of care (Knapp et al, 2007). Legal frameworks for involuntary placement of those who are mentally ill have been reformed in many European countries. Most regulate compulsory admission and treatment by special mental health laws. Only Greece, Spain, Italy and those member states of the European Union (EU) that joined in 2004 and 2007 have no separate laws (Dressing & Salize, 2004).