Independent Mental Health Advocacy

Farah's story

Farah has been receiving mental health services for 25 years. Farah says her current case manager has been treating her badly by not listening to her and being rude.

Farah has recently learnt that she has rights. She sits down and prepares her self-advocacy plan using the Know your rights resources.

Step 1 – Farah identifies the issue

What is the issue(s) Farah is concerned about?

The staff do not listen to her or take her preferences into account when making treatment decisions. When they do have meetings, the case manager will not have a proper conversation with her.

The medication might be causing long-term damage to her health, but she is not sure because her concerns are dismissed when she raises them.

Who is the decision maker? Who can help Farah?

Farah decides that if she is going to change her case manager's behaviour, she needs to speak to them first. However, if the case manager doesn't listen Farah can talk to the manager.

Step 2 – Farah learns about her rights

What are Farah’s rights?

Farah reads I want more say in my treatment and learns that she has the following legal rights:

  • to be supported to make or participate in decisions about her treatment, even where those decisions involve a degree of risk.
  • to have her informed consent sought before being given treatment if she has capacity. This means she must be given information, time and support to make an informed decision about treatment.

What resources or people could help?

Farah decides that she just needs Know you rights documents to support her conversation with the case manager.

Who may be able to assist?

Farah talks to her close friend Anton, who agrees to come with her to the next meeting with her case manager.

Step 3 – Farah thinks about solutions

What is the main (preferred) solution?

Farah discusses her options and solutions with Anton. She decides that her preferred solution is that her case manager apologises and offers to set up a meeting with Farah's psychiatrist. In that meeting they will discuss Farah's concerns and alternative treatment options.

Are there alternative solutions?

Farah decides that she is not willing to compromise on the above.

How will Farah know whether she was successful?

Farah is clear that success for her would be feeling that the relationship has changed. That means that she can ask questions and raise her concerns about her treatment. If she does, it will be supported, and she will be able to work towards her recovery goals.

Step 4 – Farah makes a plan

How will Farah express her concerns?

Farah writes some notes to guide her conversation. She will:

  • ask the case manager to sit down and listen to her, without interrupting her
  • explain the concerns she has about the case manager's behaviour
  • show her the Know you rights fact sheets, with the important points highlighted
  • ask the case manager to organise a meeting to also include the psychiatrist, within 2 weeks, to discuss her issues.

Who will Farah communicate to, and when?

Farah will raise it with her case manager directly with Anton present. She will call the case manager and let them know that Anton is coming to the next meeting.

If this conversation doesn't help Farah get what she wants, she plans to talk to the case manager's manager (team leader).

Who may support Farah (if she wants)?

Farah has asked Anton to support her.

Step 5 – Farah enacts the plan

Farah meets with the case manager

Before the meeting, Farah and Anton practice what she wants to say at the beginning of the meeting. In the meeting, Farah follows her notes and presents her point of view.

The case manager denies that she has treated Farah badly, which is difficult for Farah to hear. However, with Anton's encouragement Farah expresses to her case manager how she feels about their relationship.

The case manager agrees to organise a meeting with Farah's psychiatrist.

Next, Farah meets with the manager

Farah was happy to have the meeting with the psychiatrist, but was disappointed in the case manager's response.

Therefore, Farah decides to contact the case manager's team leader.

Farah calls the team leader and tells them the issues she has with the case manager's behaviour. Farah says that if the issues are not addressed, she will ask for a different case manager and make a complaint with the Mental Health and Wellbeing CommissionExternal Link (MHWC).

Finally, Farah meets with the psychiatrist

Before the meeting the case manager asks to speak with Farah alone, but Farah says that she wants Anton to be present. The case manager says she has always tried to treat Farah as an equal and will try harder to make sure Farah's point of view is heard. Farah notices that the case manager doesn't apologize.

In the meeting Farah explains that the case manager and psychiatrist make decisions without involving her. She also tells them that she is not given time or encouragement to discuss medication issues.

Farah's psychiatrist agrees that she has the right to be involved in decisions and apologises. The psychiatrist agrees to have another meeting just to discuss medication options and encourages Farah to bring Anton to this meeting if she wants.

Step 6 – Farah reviews the process

Farah reflects – what happened, what worked, what didn’t work

Farah spoke with Anton and said that she was satisfied with the psychiatrist's response. However, Farah wasn't satisfied with the response from the case-manager, and now believes that their behaviour will not change.

What are the next steps?

Farah decides to ask for a change of case manager, and depending on the team leader's response, she may make a complaint to the MHWCExternal Link .

Farah will prepare a list of questions, concerns and goals that she has about her medication for the meeting with the psychiatrist.

More information

Read more about speaking up for your rights.

Reviewed 25 August 2023


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