It is accountable to Scottish Government ministers, although it carries out its work and produces reports independently.
l The Commission has five main areas of work. They include visiting patients in hospitals and day care settings to see how they are being treated and ask about any concerns, and monitoring legislation affecting people with mental health issues and those with learning difficulties.
l It carries out investigations when things have gone wrong, and the Commission has a duty to inform and advise patients, carers and staff in the field, while also influencing public policy.
l Under Donald Lyons's leadership, the commission has been responsible for publishing 40 guidance documents on good practice.
l Subjects have included when it is right to restrict a patient's freedom, eating disorders and force feeding, whether and when it is ethical to give medicine covertly and the right of patients with mental health problems or learning disabilities to have a sexual relationship.