Independent Mental Health Advocacy

Getting a second opinion

If you no longer meet all four criteria, at any time, the psychiatrist must revoke the order. You can ask the psychiatrist to assess you for this.

Second opinion about treatment

You have the right to get a second psychiatric opinion about:

  • whether the treatment criteria apply to you
  • your treatment and its possible effects on you.

You can ask your treating team to reassess you, or to get a second opinion from a different psychiatrist.

The Mental Health and Wellbeing Act allows you to request a second opinion at any time. Requests for second opinions can also be made by:

  • a person you ask to do so on your behalf
  • your guardian
  • a parent (if you are under 16)
  • the Secretary of the Department of Human Services, if you are on a custody or guardianship to Secretary order.

You can ask your mental health service to arrange this, or you can request a second opinion from the free and independent Second Psychiatric Opinion ServiceExternal Link . You can also ask a private psychiatrist but you may have to pay.

The psychiatrist who provides the second opinion will write a report, which will be given to you and the psychiatrist treating to you, as well as any person you have nominated or requested the second opinion on your behalf.

If you get a different second opinion

A different second opinion won't necessarily mean your treatment changes.

If the psychiatrist providing a second opinion thinks that the criteria for a treatment order do not apply or the treatment should be changed, your treating psychiatrist must reassess you as soon as practicable.

If the treating psychiatrist does not agree with the second opinion, they must:

  • notify you orally as soon as possible
  • notify you in writing within 10 days after the second opinion report is provided.

If you are not happy with the reasons, you can apply to the Chief Psychiatrist and ask for a review. The Chief PsychiatristExternal Link must review the decision within 10 business days. In conducting the review, the Chief Psychiatrist will talk to you, the doctors and look at your file.

The Chief Psychiatrist may direct the treating team to change your treatment.

How an advocate can support you

If you are receiving compulsory treatment, you may feel you need help to understand and act on your rights in the mental health system.

Our independent advocates can:

  • listen to what you want and talk to you about your options
  • give you information and support to act on your rights
  • work with you so you can have your say
  • refer you to other services if requested.

Find out more about how we can support you.

We do not provide legal representation or specific advice about how the law applies in your particular situation. If you require legal help, ask your advocate to put you in touch with Victoria Legal Aid.

Reviewed 01 September 2023