Independent Mental Health Advocacy

Self-help tool

We help you understand your rights and options when you are receiving compulsory mental health treatment.

I don't want compulsory treatment

Receiving compulsory mental health treatment can be lonely and distressing. It is important to know that even if you are on a compulsory treatment order, you do have rights and options.

  • A treatment order lets a hospital or mental health clinic give you treatment even if you don’t want it. There are different types of treatment orders. The main difference is where you are treated:

    • community treatment order – a community treatment order lets a service give you compulsory treatment while you are in the community
    • inpatient treatment order– an inpatient treatment order means that you must stay in hospital while you get compulsory treatment.

    Decisions about compulsory treatment orders are usually made by a psychiatrist in a public clinical mental health service or the Mental Health Tribunal.

    The Mental Health Tribunal makes decisions about treatment orders and whether people can receive electroconvulsive treatment. The tribunal is independent, and not part of a hospital or clinic.

  • The Mental Health Tribunal makes decisions about treatment orders and whether people can receive elctroconvulsive treatment.The tribunal is independent, and not part of a hospital or clinic .

Your rights

Even if you are on a compulsory treatment order, you do have rights.

  • When the Tribunal is deciding whether you need an order or not, it will look at four criteria. To be on a treatment order, you must meet all four criteria:

    • you have a mental illness, and
    • because of your mental illness you need immediate treatment to prevent serious deterioration in your mental or physical health or to prevent serious harm to you or another person, and
    • the treatment will be given to you if you are on an order, and
    • there is no less restrictive way, reasonably available, for you to get treatment. For example, as a voluntary patient.
  • You must be given a copy of your treatment order and an explanation of what the order says. On the order the psychiatrist must show why you need to be on a treatment order.

  • You have the right to a second psychiatric opinion. The psychiatrist will assess two things:

    1. whether you meet the four criteria to receive compulsory treatment
    2. whether your treatment needs to change.

Your options

Appeal to the mental health tribunal

  • The mental health staff can help you find and fill out the form. It is also available hereExternal Link – you will need to give it to the mental health staff member or the Tribunal.

  • You can call Victoria Legal Aid (1300 792 387) or the Mental Health Legal Centre (03 9629 4422) for free legal advice and assistance.

Find out why are you on an order

  • If you haven't been given a copy of your order, you can ask any staff member for it.

  • You can ask for a meeting with your psychiatirst to ask why you are on a treatment order.

  • If you are concerned, you can contact an IMHA advocate on 1300 947 820 or talk to a lawyer by calling Victoria Legal Aid (1300 792 387) or the Mental Health Legal Centre (03 9629 4422).

Get a second psychiatric opinion

  • You can contact the Second Psychiatric Opinion Service for a free and independent assessment of whether you meet the criteria for compulsory treatment and whether your treatment needs to change. You can see their websiteExternal Link or phone 1300 503 426.

  • You can ask for an internal second opinion from another psychiatrist at the mental health service.

  • If you know a private psychiatrist, you can contact them and ask them to assess you. You may want to ask if they can bulk bill you, or you may need to pay yourself. The Your Health in MindExternal Link & service can help you find if there is a psychiatrist near you.

My Choices

Now that you have read about your options, please choose the ones you want to try. These will be put into your plan that you can print out or download.

Generate your plan

Reviewed 03 September 2021