'In my first hospital stay in 2018 I tried contacting a few different services for help but didn’t really get anywhere. When you get there, they give you a little book about the Mental Health Act and that’s it.'
Kira, who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, was admitted to hospital again under a compulsory treatment order in late 2021 and early 2022.
'Prior to being in hospital, I’d started studying a Certificate 4 Mental Health and thought I knew my rights but once you are in there it can’t be really confronting, lonely and isolating. And, you’re not well.
'I wasn’t sure how to get help. Then I saw the IMHA [Independent Mental Health Advocacy] pamphlet. Having information about IMHA available in hospital and how to contact them is really helpful. It meant it I was able to get the information I needed about my rights.'
IMHA advocates worked with Kira to assist her have a say in her treatment and recovery, and advocated for measures to be put in place that made Kira feel more comfortable and confident. This involved providing information about her rights and the mental health system, so she could give the advocate instructions on what she wanted communicated to the clinical team about her preferences regarding her treatment and recovery.
'My IHMA advocate, Ali, was responsive and explained the Act in easy-to-understand terms. She helped with little things like getting a working lock on my door so I could feel safer.'
'Knowing IHMA was there in background, doing the groundwork, gave me more confidence in dealing with everything that was going on. I knew that the chapter would close out eventually.'
Kira has since completed her studies and is working in disability support with mental health consumers.
Get help from IMHA
IMHA supports people who are receiving, or at risk of receiving, compulsory mental health treatment to make decisions and have as much say as possible about their assessment, treatment and recovery.
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Reviewed 05 May 2022